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On 5 July 1946, the first bikini went on sale.

Answer a question about bikinis and win a Kobo Glo!

On 5 July 1946, the first bikini went on sale. The first modern bikini, that is, since there is evidence that bikini-like garments have existed for thousands of years – the mother-goddess of Çatalhöyük, in southern Anatolia, is depicted in a costume similar to a bikini in the Chalcolithic era, around 5600 BC.  Similar depictions were found in mosaics at the Villa Romana del Casale, in Sicily, dating from the Diocletian period (286-305 AD). The name bikini, however, was chosen by French mechanical engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim, who introduced it in Paris. Although bikini appeared in the French magazine Le Monde Illustré in 1947, its first appearance in the English language is believed to have been in the June of the following year, in the American newspaper Newsweek.

Currently the Oxford English Dictionary has four words which derive etymologically from bikini – minikini (a small bikini), tankini (a combination of bikini bottom and tank top), monokini (one-piece swimming costume), and trikini (a swimming costume consisting of three main areas of fabric). Monokini and trikini clearly use the idea that the bi-  in bikini refers to the two pieces of which this garment is composed – but this is, in fact, a misinterpretation of the word. The bikini is, rather, named after an atoll in the Marshall Islands called Bikini, famously used by the US between 1946 and 1958 as a site for testing nuclear weapons. The bi- is a false friend, because the atoll’s name (Pikinni in Marshallese) actually translates as ‘coconut place’.

To be in with the chance of winning a Kobo Glo, simply answer the following question about the derivation of the word bikini before Friday 12 July at 3pm BST.

This competition has now closed.

Why is the bikini called the bikini?

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