Pig tails? Or pony tails?

As a little girl in Indiana, my mother would often put my hair in what she called pony tails: that is, unbraided, loose, rubberbanded only at the base. I know, I know, we all know what pony tails are…right? Well, apparently not.

My understanding is a pony tail is a pony tail is a pony tail–whether you have one, two, or five, if it’s clipped/tied at the base and the hair hangs loose like, oh, a pony’s tail, it’s a pony tail.

Pig tails, on the other hand, were braids. One braid or ten, a braid was also called a pig tail because both are a bit curled, squiggly, and so forth.

BUT…I seem to be the only person I know in this Southern CA area that has understood these haristyles to be so named. Out here, several people have corrected me that a ponytail is just one of what I also know as a ponytail, but pig tails are two loose “ponytails” as I call them on either side of the head. Braids are just…braids.

This makes no sense to me. I know I’m arguing the etymology of hairstyles, but seriously…how do two floppy, horse-tail-like things on either side of a girls’ head (or, not to exclude anyone, guy’s head) resemble a pig’s tail? Do pigs have two fluffy tails and I’ve just failed to notice it up to this point?

Yup, that’s what I call them too. Cindy Brady had pigtails. I now have a ponytail, and when I’m going to bed, I’ll sometimes braid it.

For the record, I’m an east coaster.

And, oh, this sounds like one of those midwestern things.

While we’re at it, it’s soda, not pop. :slight_smile:

SF Bay Area, me and my Mom.
Pony tails = losse hair
Pig Tails = braids

We also don’t preview- losse = loose!!

Northeren Indiana here:

Pony Tail: One loose grouping in back
Pig Tails: Two on either side
Braids: braids
French Braid: Single, long braid starting at top of head and continuing down the back.

formerly from New York (near Canada, not the City) -

Pony Tail - loose hair, band at base, single at back of the head.
2 Pony Tails - loose hair, band at base, one on each side.
Pigtail - braided hair, band at end, single at back of head.
Braids - braided hair, band at end, one on each side.

The dictionary seems to avoid the question of multiplicity entirely, and does say a pigtail is braided:

ponytail - A hair style in which the hair is clasped in the back so as to hang down like a pony’s tail.

pigtail - a plait of braided hair that hangs down the back.

Hmmmmm. That begs the question of what hair arrangements sticking out from the side of the head are. To me, the age of the wearer is a factor. Pigtails are worn by little girls, suggest gingham dresses, and can include those unbraided things with the hair cut too short to form a pony tail. Ponytails may be present on women and longhaired men of all ages. Adult women are simply wearing braids, although paired braids seem to exist only on women participating in Oktoberfest or similar activities.

Pigtails existed historically on men if they happened to be 18th century sailors or Chinese in traditional garb. And I would not suggest to either Obelix or Willie Nelson that he was wearing “pigtails”.

Where I grew up (Cleveland), a ponytail was one of whatever in back, and pigtails were two whatevers on the sides. I’ll admit, though, that your definitions make more sense.

England here

Pony tail - one loose at the back

Pig Tail - two braided, one at either side

Plait - one braided at the back

Bunches - two pony tail, one at either side

Pony tail- 1 long one at the back
Pig tail- 1 loose one at the back
Braids-simply braids
cornrows- braids tight on the head, all over

and this may be a new one for you

Dog Ears- 2 loose ones, over the ears-hung down and sort of curled around the ears.

Raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Connecticut checking in:

Ponytail = 1 loose at back.

Pigtails = 1 loose at each side.

Braids = Braids, in whatever configuration. Sometimes
differentiated to French braids, or corn row braids, but they can all pretty much be refferred to as braids.

Doesn’t it depend on what the girl looks like?

::ducking and running::

I used to delight in asking my younger sister “Do you know what one usually finds under a pony’s tail?”.

Big Brother Rule #1 - Never pass up an opportunity to call your sister a horse’s ass!


Ponytails: Loose hair in a well, ponytail.
Plait: Criss-crossed hair [braiding]
And that’s about it.

Toronto, Canada:

Pigtails: Two braided at the side
Pony Tail: One loose at the back

Q: What do you call the kind that stick straight up from the top of the head? Loose, usually not very long. My ex-roomie had one, and I never got around to asking her what it was called.


I grew up in northern Iowa:

Pigtails: one on each side, can refer to braided OR loose
Ponytails: one, loose at the back of the head

Washington, D. C. here – loose: ponytail (regardless of how many); braided: pigtail (regardless of how many).


One loose bunch at the back of the head – you’re wearing a ponytail.

Two loose bunches, one on either side of the head – you’re wearing pigtails.

One braid at the back of the head – you’re wearing a braid.

Two braids, one on either side of the head – you’re the Swiss Miss girl.

Words that do not exist in the context of hairstyles: “bunches” and “plaits.”