Have you ever noticed how frequently we refer to things by names other than their formally recognized names? For example, some people ask for a brew rather than a beer. There are times when people refer to their hats as lids. It is just something we do with language. So it is no surprise that there are so many slang terms for sunglasses.
‘Sunglasses‘ is the perfect term to describe the object to which it pertains. The ‘sun’ portion tells us the purpose of the object while ‘glasses’ makes it clear that they are worn on the face. ‘Sunglasses’ is one of those rare terms perfectly suited to describing what it names.
To borrow from Shakespeare, sunglasses by any other name are still sunglasses. Some of the slang terms make good sense while others do not. Below are five examples. You get to decide for yourself whether or not they are appropriate.
The first of the six terms is pretty generic: eyewear. According to Salt Lake City’s Olympic Eyewear, it is a term often used by marketers to avoid having to distinguish between sunglasses and prescription lenses. The term is a catch-all that covers any type of lens-based appliance you might wear on your face – prescription lenses, sunglasses, reading glasses, safety glasses, etc.
Some people refer to their sunglasses as sunnies. As you might have guessed, this term is an abbreviation of the formal name. Abbreviations are fairly common in English. It is just easier for us to say the shorter word than the entire term. And if there is one thing that we Americans love it’s taking the easy route.
The only challenge with this particular term is deciding how to spell it. If we were speaking in the singular, we would say ‘sunny’. A single pair of sunglasses is, by definition, singular. Yet we have adopted a plural form because there are two lenses per pair. That’s why we refer to a pair to begin with. So we remain as confused about sunnies as we are sunglasses.
Calling sunglasses shades was all the rage back in the 70s and 80s. The trend has continued, suggesting that this is a term we enjoy using. It is rooted in the fact that sunglasses provide shade for the eyes. It does not imply UV protection. Nonetheless, any pair of sunglasses worth buying these days offers full UV protection. That’s not normally an issue.
People familiar with horses and equine sports are familiar with blinders. Blinders are small straps of leather affixed to the side of a horse’s harness in order to prevent side or rear vision. The idea is to keep the horse’s eyes fixed firmly ahead so as to avoid spooking it.
For some reason, people have taken to calling their sunglasses blinders as well. Perhaps this began with the emergence of wraparound sunglasses. As you know, wraparounds can inhibit peripheral vision to some degree. At the very least, they block sunlight coming at your face from the sides.
‘Blinker’ is just another term for a blinder. It is most often used in the horse racing environment. It is not clear why those involved in horse racing prefer blinkers over blinders, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that some people call their sunglasses blinkers as well. As to why that is curious, see the previous section.
We have all sorts of slang terms for describing sunglasses. The ones listed here represent just a small sample. Whatever you call yours, just remember one thing: sunglasses by any other name are still sunglasses.