This thread made me think about the word “scarf.” To me a “scarf” is made of some light material, like silk, and is primarily used as for stylistic purposes. When you wrap something around your neck in order to keep warm, like something made from knitted wool, I call that a “muffler.”
I always thought muffler was the British word for (the woolly kind of) scarf or the American word for the fur-lined hand-warmer. A muff, while etymologically related, is in modern lingo something different altogether!
That’s wierd, I was just thinking about this exact question the other week, reading Connie Willis’s “Doomsday Book”. There was a ‘muffler’ mentioned frequently in the story, and each time it really grated on me as in innapropriate (presumed) Americanism. I’ve never heard a British person say “muffler” except referring to car exhausts. It’s a scarf, no matter what it’s made of.
Nah, it’s less an Americanism than an elderlyism. Grandmas remind you to get your muffler, but she means a scarf. Unless, of course, she or Grandpa used to be mechanics, then they might mean muffler the way the rest of us do:D
A scarf is:
a. a decorative, silky addition to an outfit
b. a warm, woolly item to wrap about your neck and chin when you’re out in the cold.
A muffler is:
a. the thing that keeps your car quiet and costs millions of dollars to replace because it needs all kinds of connectors and tubes and widgets no matter WHERE you go to have the work done.
b. how your Granny refers to a scarf
A muff is:
a. a tubular hand-warmer (I had a rabbit fur one I wore to church as a kid – I had the matching mittens and wasn’t I hot shit with that combo! )
b. female genitalia, the hairy part in particular
To me a scarf is the thing you wear around your neck outside, and a dressy scarf is what you wear as a fashion accent.
Mufflers are a car part that wears out like clockwork on Nissan Sentras.
To add to the confusion, before I opened the thread, I was wondering if you might be asking about neck gaiters, which are a tube you wear around your neck and pull up over your nose if it’s super-cold outside. I just finished knitting a few of them. I like them for outdoor tasks, because they keep my face and neck warm, but don’t dangle in my way or come un-tied. My kids like them for keeping warm at the bus stop. Here is a practical example of a gaiter: