Updated date:

What Is a Toboggan: Hat or Sled?


A Regional Debate

Several years ago, I had some friends who were Yankees (and they were pretty darn proud of it). He was from northern Maine and she was from New Hampshire. You really don't get much more Yankee than that. This was their first winter in Texas.

On a particularly cold day, I mentioned that their son needed a toboggan. I got the strangest look from the couple. Since we had no snow on the ground they thought I had lost my mind. They asked me why he needed a toboggan. I told them "to keep his head warm, of course." The couple roared with laughter. That was the first time I realized that everyone in the world didn't call a knit cap a toboggan. To them, a toboggan was a traditional wooden sled. No wonder they wanted to know why I thought their son needed one! And, no wonder they found it so funny that I thought one would keep his head warm.

They honestly thought I had lost my mind. Here I was, nearly 40 years old, and I had been calling knit caps toboggans all my life. Of course, they were the same age and had always known sleds as toboggans.

It's not that I didn't know a certain type of sled was sometimes called a toboggan, we just don't have them in Texas. They, on the other hand, couldn't fathom a hat being called a toboggan.

This image from "Camp Life in the Woods and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap Making" by William Hamilton Gibson depicts a toboggan sled.

This image from "Camp Life in the Woods and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap Making" by William Hamilton Gibson depicts a toboggan sled.

Researching the Meaning of "Toboggan"

That funny anecdote began the research mission. My friends were determined to prove me wrong and I was determined to prove to them that at least one dictionary in the world acknowledges that a toboggan can also be a winter hat.

I did eventually find a dictionary that had toboggan listed as a hat. Unfortunately, it was a large two-volume set and I wasn't going to pay that much money to prove a point! However, I'm beginning to see more and more dictionaries (printed and online) that include a toboggan as a type of winter cap or hat. Wikipedia also acknowledges it as a type of hat.

It became a quite a topic of (friendly) contention between us. So much so that I finally named my dog Toby as a jab at them. Toby, short for toboggan. My New Englander friends and I would quiz people we met on the street hoping to determine the regions of the United States that used it as a term for a sled vs. a hat.

A toboggan if you're from the South.

A toboggan if you're from the South.

A Toboggan Is a Hat to Southerners

Here's what I found out on my end. From the research I've done, it appears that the southern region of the United States (the areas that use Southern American English) use the term toboggan to refer to a knit winter hat. This area includes the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Texas. It may also include specific regions of Oklahoma, Missouri, Maryland, West Virginia, Florida, southern Indiana, and New Mexico.

If you're in the American South, your toboggan is your hat!

A Toboggan Is a Sled to New Englanders

If you're from New England, as well as many other places in the US, a toboggan refers to a type of simple traditional sled without runners, designed for riding down hills. This type of sled was created and used by the indigenous people of northern Canada.

If you're in America outside of the South (or if you're in Canada), a toboggan likely refers to a sled.

Toboggan Etymology

The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word "toboggan" originates from the word tabagane, which was the French interpretation of the word for the sled in one of the Algonquian languages (likely tepaqan from the Mi'kmaq language).

The Word Detective blog claims the use of toboggan as a term for a hat in Southern English originates in the early 20th century, when it was referred to as a "toboggan hat" because it was the most commonly worn type of hat for sledding.

Other Names for a Toboggan Hat

It turns out that a "toboggan" hat has many different regional names. Here are a few other terms that are used in the English-speaking world for this type of hat:

  • beanie
  • sherpa
  • watch cap (military)
  • sock or stocking hat
  • snookie
  • burglar hat

You're in good company whether you wear a toboggan or ride one. How about we put on our toboggans, pull out our wooden toboggans, and take Toby the dog for a ride?

Questions & Answers

Question: Where I was raised in SW Pa., a toboggan may be a hat or a sled. Meaning derives from context?

Answer: Of course, but the point was that some only know it as one or the other.


Zechariah on August 27, 2020:

I lived in the south my entire life, and calling the hat a toboggan is just wrong. It’s a frickin beanie

Todd Carnes on May 08, 2020:

I grew up in Ohio and a tobaggan was a hat when I was growing up.

Keith Katterheinrich on May 07, 2020:

I grew up in Ohio, moved to Kentucky. What I noticed is that people who don't understand winter call a toboggan a hat. And close for an inch of snow.

Jim Redman on April 25, 2020:

Hat or sled? Yes, sort of.

I grew up in western South Carolina. We certainly knew a toboggan was a light sled, but no one was talking about sleds because we only got snow an inch or two deep and then a couple of days later it was gone. Only once every several years we might get a foot or more.

So when somebody there said "toboggan" we knew it was the shortened version of "toboggan cap" meaning a knit cap like the ones worn by people riding toboggans in pictures we might see at Christmastime. And seldom would those sleds be seen by us otherwise.

Mary on February 08, 2020:

Raised in the south and never heard of a hat Referred to as a toboggan. LOL only knew it as a type of round sled

SB on January 23, 2020:

I'm from Alabama, and it's most definitely a hat here.

Joe on November 10, 2019:

I grew up in So. Ga. We call this type of winter hat a boggan. I guess it's our shortened version of toboggan

Hilary on September 30, 2019:

I am a Yankee (MA border of upstate NY) but have lived in West Virginia for almost 7 years. I've gotten on board with lots of regional colloquialisms--y'all, buggy, etc.--but I just can't with calling a hat a toboggan. The bf, a WV native, and I have already battled this out, despite the weather still being in the 90s.

Karina Tonn on August 11, 2019:

In my area of Southern Ohio, we call the knit hats toboggans, which are primarily worn for sledding in my family. Basically everyone uses colloquialisms. Snobs who are so pompous that they bully someone over a colloquialism need to get over themselves. Shame on your so-called friends.

Lynn Walker on July 05, 2019:

I was born in 1962. I grew up in Louisiana, Maryland, DC, Alabama, and Texas and NEVER heard a hat referred to as a toboggan. Just my two cents. :-)

Billystorm on February 10, 2019:

This is a topic that shouldn't even need discussion.

A Toboggan is a sled, and that's that.

Aiona on February 10, 2019:

I grew up in Pocahontas County West Virginia, where they called hats "toboggans," but when I moved to Lake Village, Arkansas, people thought I was nuts when I called hats "toboggans." I thought it was because my dad had learned the word wrong - as he was born in Thailand. But then, no, I started meeting other people who also told me they thought toboggans were hats, and I ended up apologizing to my dad for thinking he was learning English wrong! Arkansas is definitely the South, so I don't think it's a Southern thing. I think it's very colloquial Appalachian English, possibly imported to other states by people who migrated there from the Appalachians. I wish someone would study this, because I'm guessing it's due to the migration of Irish-Americans to the west and South.

Mary Sue on February 08, 2019:

We had this discussion just last night. My husband said he put on his toboggan because it was 3 degrees above zero. Our son laughed & said that a toboggan is a sled. We’re from southern Illinois. I guess we’re southern & northern.

Larry on February 03, 2019:

In Canada, we call this hat a Toque (pronounced took).

A toboggan is a long sled.

Maria on February 02, 2019:

Jim. I'm 36, from Cleveland OH, and 1 week ago is the first time I ever heard it be called toboggan!

Jim Doors on January 11, 2019:

Im 47yrs old and lived in Northeast Ohio most of my life. I've heard that type of hat called a toboggan my entire life. Yet as close as 30 miles away I've gotten weird looks when using that term. Mostly by younger generation

Others in the area sometimes also refer to it as a "stocking cap"

Matt on January 02, 2019:

I'm from South Louisiana, I have never heard of a knit hat being called a Toboggan until I read this article. Maybe it's the French influence on the region, maybe it's Christmas movies, maybe it's having a mother from California, maybe it's the books I've read. I have always thought of it as a sled.

Jo Ann on December 23, 2018:

My husband and I are from Texas, born and raised in the same city. He says it is a sled, and I say it's a hat and a sled.

Tom on December 18, 2018:

I am 66 years old and live in NC. I grew up and lived in western Pennsylvania until I was 28 and then lived in Colorado 4 years before moving to NC. I first encountered the term toboggan as a winter hat in NC. Before that I understood a toboggans to be a form of wooden sled. I even rode on a few although most of my sled riding was on sleds with steel runners. My mother called the hats we wore tossel hats even if they had no tossels?!?

Donna on December 13, 2018:

I’ve lived my whole life in Arizona. My mom always called her beanie hat a toboggan. We also knew it to be a sled of some type though. Like you in Texas, we never saw or had snow to use a sled toboggan. A toboggan hat we saw plenty of.

RTalloni on December 12, 2018:

Great holiday post. Wonder how many toboggans will be hiding under Christmas trees this year?! Toboggans can be the funniest topic, proved by your post and these lively comments. I knew that both a sled and a hat can be called a toboggan, but did not know a sherpa was a toboggan. Aren't words fun?! And isn't this one just one of the funnest on every level? Simply saying it is funny. Is it really a toast? Something from The Hobbit? Maybe a place we are supposed to go? ;)

Jennifer on December 10, 2018:

A sled has metal runners on the bottom, a toboggan does not! they are not the same!

Kristie on December 06, 2018:

Wow! Im 33 and just learning toboggans are sleds! Its a hat here in N.C.

Marf on November 28, 2018:

Thank you soooo much for this article! Love it! My roommates from California and Boston looked at me like I was crazy when I referred to a hat as a toboggan! I know it as both a sled AND a hat. Great article, very enjoyable read.

Audrey on October 01, 2018:

As a Colorado native a Toboggan has and will always be a sled, and a knit hat will be a hat.

April on August 12, 2018:

I am Canadian, and here a toboggan is a sled, and the hats you are referring to, we call them Toques. You put your mits and toque on before you go tobogganing! But hey, no judgement here, I spend half my time in Canada and half in New York and there’s so many little differences. Like “color” or “colour”, and in the US it’s unlikely I can find a poutine. I get a lot of grief about some of the things I say, that they don’t say here in NY

Joshua on August 08, 2018:

I think boggins just get incorrectly called toboggans. Though if you're going to ride a toboggan down a hill, you'll probably want a boggin on your head.

Lisa Y. on August 01, 2018:

I'm so glad you wrote this article. I'm from Central Indiana and have always used the word toboggan to describe a hat. Now that I live with my husband in Michigan, he thinks I'm crazy for using that word. To him, toboggan means sled. Thank you for making me feel a little less crazy!

Acer Rubrum on July 19, 2018:

A toboggan hat is a touque, with a southern drawl :)

A on July 14, 2018:

Use to live in southern indiana and we all call hats toboggans

Now i live in northern ohio and these people dont relate to a hat called toboggan its a sled to them. Wow i say

Get youre toboggan on.

Mary on July 14, 2018:

We live in Northern Virginia and just had this conversation within our group. Not one of us had ever heard of a toboggan being a hat. A toboggan is a sled to us.

Lutisha on July 12, 2018:

I was born and mostly raised in southern Ohio... Where we call hats toboggans... but we ALSO called sleds toboggans... so there is that. I now live in Missouri and NO ONE calls hats toboggans they are beanies and sleds are just simply sleds. My children call beanies both beanies and toboggan but for simplicity sake they only call them toboggans when talking with me. Oh well....

William Gregory Barr on May 11, 2018:

I would hope it was hat, otherwise I may have never learned to read or write, as it was my first recognizable word that I learned and only because it was a hat, and yes I too was familiar with the term toboggan used for a sled, when one of our family members, an Uncle, had made his home in New York and coming for a visit saw us kids sledding and said you need one of those toboggan sleds, for this type of terrain they would be perfect and you might not be hurt as badly when you jump over a snow drift, we were like a toboggan, yeah right, we thought he was pulling our leg lol oh course, later we found out there was a sled called a toboggan and was similar to another type sled we used called the Washing Machine lid : )

Mr. A. N. Onymous on April 04, 2018:

I’m living in East Texas, and a toboggan is what you wear on your head. I ain’t never seen a wooden hat or one your ride in snow. I met a Yankee who laughed himself silly at me. I had my cats charades him off the property barking like crazy. He tried to tell me my German Shepherd cat was a DOG! Maybe up in the crazy North, but not here in the great state of Texas!

Seth on February 25, 2018:

I'm 50 years old, born and raised in the great state of Arkansas, and here, a toboggan is only a knitted hat used in the winter. Called a Tugue in (French) Canada.

Ron on February 05, 2018:

I am from Northern Maine and my wife is from Northern Massachuetts. We recently moved to Tennessee and oddly enough I had pretty much this exact same conversation with a co-worker of mine!! It is for that reason my research brought me to this site.

Shannon on February 05, 2018:

I am originally from California and now live in Arkansas. My preschoolers were so excited after Christmas sharing all of their new toboggans I was looking for a sled. But in the South toboggans our hats I guess. Just like palettes are beds made with Towels or blankets as where I come from a palette is made of nothing but wood.

g c cunningham on February 03, 2018:

Excellent article! I'm from Alabama, but have lived in CA for 30 years, and had the same experience a few years ago ...with my wife. She laughed her head off and I thought my knowledge of "toboggan cap" must have been some dumb thing my family got wrong. Googling thru internet I find: 1-it's a southern thing, especially in North and South Carolina, and Virginia and W. Virginia. 2-In eastern Canada they called a knit cap a "toboggan cap," and later just "toboggan." Fascinating regional descriptors, similar to: soda, pop, "coke."

Deborah Polley on February 01, 2018:

Now we have another dilemma inside of the original one. A SLED has runners on it and is more easily steered in a certain direction. A TOBOGGAN is flat on the bottom. They are different. I am from Michigan and a Knit hat is just that "a knit hat". I have lived in Ohio for several years and people here call the knit hat a toboggan.

A sled and toboggan can both be used to go down a hill, but they are different.

Gretchen on January 29, 2018:

I grew up in Texas and never called a hat a toboggan... not sure I ever heard one called it either

Daryl on January 29, 2018:

I live and work in west GA, but I grew up in the Cincinnati, OH area. In both parts of the country, as well as in southeast TN, I've heard toboggan used to describe both a hat and a sled. My father was from Kannapolis, NC and he also used toboggan to describe knit hats. One of my company's employees recently moved here from Canada, and he was told that he would need a toboggan to keep his head warm given the unusually cold weather we'd been having. He had to ask for an explanation of this and was very surprised to learn that this referred to a hat. He thought that they were suggesting that he use the wooden sled that he had in his garage as some kind of wind break. Finally, another new employee recently moved from the Dallas, TX area. When this part of Georgia had snow for the first time in 6 years his neighbor (a gentleman originally from New York), told him that he should hop on a toboggan and use it to slide down the icy hill outside the hill outside their houses to reach the street where they parked their cars the night before in anticipation of the bad weather. He said that he'd never heard of the sled, only the hat, so he couldn't figure out why anyone would want to use a hat for this purpose.

Ben on January 23, 2018:

I live in Ohio and here the dividing line seems to be interstate 70. North of 70 most folks call them knit caps, stocking caps, or even winter hats. So confusing. South of 70 they are toboggans. We wear toboggans and sometimes even get the toboggan out of the garage when the conditions are right for my dad's 6' long toboggan to go really good on the hills. :)

Phillip Lewis on January 19, 2018:

I am from Jeffersonville, Indiana; a quaint little city just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky and we have always called knit hats toboggans. Any type of sled we referred to as a sled-- the only different type of sled would've been a bobsled! I've known the definition of the word, just never gave it much thought as I assumed we were just leaving the word "hat" off the end. I mean, during winter when it actually does snow and you can sled, you have kids grabbing garbage can lids and that's a sled on that particular day! Beanies are something different. A beanie fits more snug on the head like the caps worn by Muslims, and a stocking cap is what us black guys wear to get waves! That's just how I grew up...

Michaela on January 15, 2018:

I was listening to a podcast recently where this came up. The host (who is from West Virginia) referred to someone as “wearing a toboggan with ear flaps”. I probably made the same face as your friends in your example. All I could picture was a wooden sled with knit flaps on the side. For reference, I’m 31 years old, from Rhode Island and had never heard this before in my life! Very interesting! :) It makes me think of how this type of hat in Canada is often referred to as a “tuque”. I’ve always just said beanie or cap.

Vicky Jean on January 14, 2018:

Raised in West Virginia, we wore toboggans on our heads & rode down hills on our sleds in the winter.

Toboggan wearer on January 13, 2018:

I was driving a few executive producers around and the sniffles in the air made me mention that they needed toboggans. They all stopped and said that's a sled, why do we need that?

ALL of my life that's what myself and everyone else that l know have called knitted hats and we call a sled a sled!!

Bonita Chambers on January 02, 2018:

My husband and I are from different counties in Southwest Virginia. Both of us have always called a knit hat a toboggan. We just recently found out that people in Hilton Head, South Carolina are not familiar with the term. I got online to begin my research to prove them wrong and was delighted to find it had already been done lol. Thank you!

Diana schuette on December 28, 2017:

first time I heard this term was while reading a Jan Karon book(she writes about a family in Carolina) I thought it was a misprint. In Wisconsin we call them stocking caps.

tony - Southeastern Ohio on December 21, 2017:

Toboggan always

GeorgeKempis on December 20, 2017:

I live in western New York, but have lived all over. I had never heard a knit hat called a toboggan until a recent visit to Virginia. We've always called them "stocking hats".

Stephanie on December 19, 2017:

I am from NW Georgia and I call knitting caps toboggans.

Jeannine on December 18, 2017:

I am from East TN and I am 48 yrs old. I have called a nit cap a toboggan all of my life.

Carrie on December 17, 2017:

I am from East Texas and I've always called a winter hat a toboggan. I was a teenager before I even knew a toboggan was a sled, LOL. Of course, we don't do a lot of sledding in Tx. My husband is from OH and thought I was crazy the first time he heard me say that I was looking for my toboggan before I went outside. He called winter hats beanies. Ronald mentioned that it was originally called a "toboggan hat" because you wore it while sledding. That makes the most sense!

KRC (author) from Central Texas on December 17, 2017:

Let me clarify for you.....those of us that grew up calling this type of winter hatwear a toboggan are fully aware that it is also a type of sled. We are not stupid or confused. As you can see from the comments there are many many people who are familiar with what I'm talking about.

dejavudu on December 17, 2017:

I've been a Virginian my entire life and I've honestly never heard before yesterday that there are people in the world who think a toboggan is something you wear.

KRC (author) from Central Texas on November 29, 2017:

Thank you for all your comments. It's nice to see that we all have similar circumstances where people around us refer to it differently.

David on November 26, 2017:

My grandma from Germany also called it a toboggan

Ronald on November 08, 2017:

I’m from the north and moved to the south and my wife is from the south and we had argued about this before. I was curious and googled it. Found that the reason the hat is now being called toboggan is because at one time in the hat was called a “toboggan hat” because it was a suitable hat to where when riding a toboggan. It was then shortened to “toboggan” later on.

Danny on November 08, 2017:

I'm from NWA and have always called a knit cap a toboggan never knew it by any other name. Beanie is a fairly new term I believe and one all my sons grew up with. When I say toboggan I get a funny look even from my family.

By the way NWA is, Northwest Arkansas.

Linaudth on October 28, 2017:

I am from Cleveland, and my husband from Kentucky. We have argued this for years. I told him 28 years ago that I will continue to teach our children that a tobaggan is a sled because I never wanted them to be made fun of when they traveled the world their entire life. I chose to follow 85% of the USA....just sayin

janet on October 26, 2017:

We always called knit hats toboggans growing up in KY , but we also knew sleds were called toboggans as well.. We just didn't refer to the sleds as toboggans that often...Those cheap plastic sleds we had were just called sleds.

Jason on October 26, 2017:

Odd that they didn't know. In Ohio all my life and we've always called the hats toboggans.

Rebecca from Florida on October 18, 2017:

My boyfriend has been making fun of me about me believing my knit hat wasn't a toboggan. I lived in New Hampshire for 7 years so I thought I knew what I was talking about. Thankyou for this!!! Now I can prove him wrong!!!

Cole from Ohio on September 05, 2017:

I'm from southeastern ohio. Everyone always called it a toboggan. Made friends from Cleveland in college and they had never heard a hat being called that.

Okie Z on September 03, 2017:

Born in '81, from Oklahoma. My mother taught it to me as toboggan. I've received funny glances for it, but not from this state, lol. Maybe in OKC. I can understand why people might laugh at it, but I personally laugh at it when people call it a beanie. Learn what a beanie really is, while you're on this path as well.

KRC (author) from Central Texas on July 06, 2017:

Really appreciate all of the comments from around the state of people having similar discussions. Thank you!

T Sholette on July 05, 2017:

My wife and I had this same conversation when we first started dating in 1980. I'm from upstate NY and she's from Ok. My sister's and I had a good laugh.

Lauren on May 21, 2017:

I am from Cullman, Alabama and there are a few word usages on which my husband and I disagree. Toboggan is one of the main culprits. I have about 20 toboggans in my closet. He thinks I have too many knitted caps. I'll say I'm fixin' to do something and he rolls his eyes. I have been known to tump my 4x4 over. Hubby insists that tump is not a word as he's pulling the 4x4 out with his truck. I've been known to get ill with someone and I'm angry, not sick.

GE Hoostal on May 10, 2017:

I’m about the same as Ohio Lifer. From NE OH, edge of Appalachian foothills: they’re S, SW, & SE outside my hometown; but go NW & W & it’s much flatter. I think the dialect likewise has an unusual convergence. Now in NE IN though.

It seems from the comments that at least from Columbus S (& maybe E & SE), ‘toboggan’ means ‘hat’. Not really in Columbus itself, & but otherwise, that area has a somewhat Southern dialect & accent, with drawl, similar to KY & WV.

Couple hrs’ drive farther NE, where I’m from, it’s…

‘Toboggan’ being only the wooden sled depicted. The hat is just ‘a hat’ or ‘a warm hat’—thinking of my mom calling out, ‘Put on a warm hat before you go outside!’—although other types count too; mothers don’t care much except that a hat is warm & covers the ears all the way!

Shopping ‘cart’. My husband’s family (from OH close to PA) says ‘buggy’. Regional usage seems to have originated with mine-carts.

The drink is ‘pop’, but I prefer ‘soda’ since that seems more logical to me. ‘Coke’ to mean that seems highly illogical: What if you want the literal Coke flavor? Q: Do you want a Coke? A: Yes. Q: What kind? A: Coke. (Huh? Or is it, ‘I SAID, “Coke”!’?) What if you don’t like that flavor (I don’t) & want anything but it, but you’re still asking for it? It’s kind of giving me a headache. Ohio Lifer is right about this. If you ask for a Kleenex or a tissue, what you get is essentially one thing. The brand doesn’t matter particularly. Likewise with a soda. The brand’s a lot less important than the flavor. Reminds me of people who always refer to vehicles by their model-names. That’s weird to me. I call them just ‘car’ & ‘truck’, except to distinguish between cars or trucks, & then I’d think of color before model-name.

There’s a ‘hero’ shop in my hometown, but eventually a Subway was built also, & at least now I think ‘sub’ is common. Like ‘hat’ & ‘car’, we say just ‘sandwich’.

‘Dinner’ is in the evening, also for Columbus grandparents, although for my in-laws & hometown grandparents: ‘supper’. I think for in-laws ‘dinner’ is at noon & hometown grandparents ‘lunch’ is at noon.

My mother-in-law says ‘sweeper’. I think of a broom though, or the person using it, or maybe street-sweeper. ‘Vacuum’ always.

More regionalisms: ‘crayfish’ (most etymologically authentic, from ME crevise); housing ‘development’ (here in IN, it’s an ‘addition’); ‘frosting’ is creamy &, like frost, opaque; ‘icing’ is thin &, like ice, translucent; a long cream-filled doughnut is a ‘creamstick’; ‘tree-lawn’; ‘wood-louse’; ‘trash-can’ (not ‘garbage-can’: garbage is food-waste, hence garbage-disposal’…looking at the Wikipedia list now…); I THINK my mom calls an indoor faucet a ‘faucet’ but an outdoor one a ‘spigot’—not sure—but she’s from the Columbus area, & like ‘hat’ & ‘car’ & ‘sandwich’ (developing theme) I say just ‘the water’, e.g. ‘hook this hose up to the water’, or ‘faucet’ if I have to; ‘frying-pan’ or more likely just ‘pan’ (mother-in-law says ‘skillet’); ‘gutter’; ‘pit’ (as in ‘peach’ I guess); ‘firefly’, but ‘lightning bug’ is normal too; ‘bucket’, but ‘pail’ is normal too; rubber-soled shoes worn in gym class, for athletic activities, etc. are, like ‘hat’ & ‘car’ & ‘sandwich’ & ‘water’, just ‘shoes’ (if I want to be more specific, then the sport they’re for, like ‘running shoes’ & ‘tennis shoes’ are 2 different kinds, except for rugby & soccer, just ‘cleats’); drinking ‘fountain’—Hey, Wikipedia concurs on my division of OH for ‘toboggan’!—‘roundabout’; ‘drive-through’ liquor store; ‘milkshake’; my dad says ‘catty-corner’ (properly ‘cater-cornered’), but I say ‘diagonally across’ the st. or whatever; & ‘stoop’, being a little porch, but ‘porch’ is more usual.

Catherine Gardner on April 24, 2017:

Thank you for your explanation of a knit hat being called a toboggan. I live in the U.k. Have never heard of such a thing. I'm reading a book and trying to imagine a hat in the shape of a sled

Krista from Maine on March 20, 2017:

I came to your site because a friend of mine (from Texas) and I were shopping a couple of weeks ago and he said he was looking for a toboggan. I looked at him like he had two heads because of course, we are in Texas, it's March and there is no earthly place to use it except as decoration. He explained to me that a toboggan was a hat - wool in type. I thought me meant beret...but it turns out he was talking about a knit hat/cap or a ski hat. I thought it was funny that I'd never heard of that use. I was interested to find out the origin of that word for those who use it.

Eric on March 13, 2017:

This article doesn't really explain anything except a fun anecdote

Phil G. on February 16, 2017:

My wife is from Canada and the first time I said this, she laughed to no end.

It wasn't until we were going through a check out line that a cashier spoke up about toboggans being a hat since we were discussing it at the time.

I was just glad to know I was NOT the only one and now seeing it online... at least I know some of us aren't just crazy ;-)

Cynthia Chandler on February 08, 2017:

I have spent my entire life calling the winter hats toboggans also. My family is from upstate New York & they've always called them toboggans. So, you aren't alone. You're part of a large group now. LMAO

Connie Kukielka on January 15, 2017:

I am from Southern Ohio and I call a knit cap a toboggan. My husband is from New Jersey and calls a curved sled a toboggan.

Joe1909 on January 06, 2017:

Called a ski cap not a toboggan

Christian Hawke on December 21, 2016:

A toboggan is a type of sled; a boggin is a type of hat. Although I have no proof of this, I believe that southerners adopted "toboggan" for their knit caps because "boggin" and "tobaggan" are so similar.


Justin Wildesen on December 17, 2016:

I feel your pain. I have called it a toboggan my whole life and I have been picked on about it from everyone I know. My grandmother told me it got its name because when you went out to sled on your toboggan you needed your toboggan hat.

Alicia on December 17, 2016:

Thank you...you post saved me when this discussion can up with my husband...yah baby ..let's hear it for TX.

Suellen Garrison on December 10, 2016:

Born and raised in Ohio and in the winter we always wore a toboggan HAT and would ride down a hill on a toboggan SLED. I'm 72 and am so surprised so many never heard of a Hat and Sled both being called toboggans.

Pete on December 09, 2016:

In the Navy it is called a Watch Cap.

Bryan on December 09, 2016:

Born and raised in Ohio. Never ever heard a knot cap/winter hat referred to a as a "toboggan". This is a type of wooden sled to be sure. Not sure where others here from Ohio or Indiana ever heard toboggan as a hat? Maybe they are in a very rural area or have family from the south that called it that? Not sure. Toboggan goes down a hill, a knit hat/cap goes on your head;)

Bridgette Cash on December 08, 2016:

Well I'm from deep south Texas and my husband is from NORTH CAROLINA and we dicited to move to NC after having kids winter came along and I started hearing everyone say the word toboggin. Lol that was the funniest word I had ever heard deep south Texas where it never even snows I had never heard that word in my life!!! So I asked my husbands grandmother what is that????? She told me it was a warm winter hat. I'm like what???? As said iI'm from "deep" south Texas I call that a BEENIE!!! LOL and people from over their don't know what a beenie is lol. So their you go. I call it a Bernie you call it a toboggin.

Thank you.

Linda on December 05, 2016:

In Georgia, we call them boggans. We never had a toboggan, because we never had snow. (well, rarely) But we knew what a toboggan was and I never thought boggan was short for toboggan. My family and I have argued about these things for years, but we enjoy it. We also call a car trunk a cooterhull and a glove compartment is the "pocket." In south Georgia, we have a lot of words and expressions not heard anywhere else! Like"streak-ed." Others call it "striped." Also, drop cord and fly flap and piedy and nary and nurn.

Donna on December 03, 2016:

Love this! I just left the Litchfield, Illinois Micky D's where they were selling Tobaggans. I told the older fellow taking my order that I would love one of those Cardinal/Blues Tobaggans. He was like which item is a Tobaggan? (They had socks too). My husband laughed and said wearing a sled on your head is a Carolina thing. I am used to his ribbing and will not stop calling knit hats Tobaggans. It provides much comic relief when I am around non southerners. Besides call it a knit cap sounds too formal and a bit rhetorical. Yes, it is a knit cap, but is it a Tobaggan??

Dan on April 27, 2016:

you wear a topnoggan, and ride a tobaggan

Chris on April 22, 2016:

Priceless! In Canada it's toboggan vs sled and toque vs wool hat/beanie etc. Been living in Texas for three years and trying to learn the language!

KRC (author) from Central Texas on February 09, 2016:

I agree, JackieR! Nice to know there are many of us who know it as both and are ok with others knowing it only as a sled. :)

JackieR on February 09, 2016:

I have lived in Oklahoma my whole life and always called them toboggans. I have a friend from Michigan who argued with me recently about it being a sled and I thought maybe I was crazy! Glad to know I am not! My thought is to each their own! You don't need to prove anyone wrong, or yourself right. But I do always call it a toboggan everytime I am around her just to irate her!

KRC (author) from Central Texas on November 01, 2015:

Glad I could help! LOL

Romy on November 01, 2015:

So glad I found this. I saw a site for making quilts out of your own clothing. However the woman said not to send silk, swimwear, underwear, or toboggans. I thought; "How could she add parts of a sled to a quilt? Maybe this is a typo! Maybe she breaks off small pieces of the sled! Could this woman be a little crazy? Maybe this is a joke!" When I found your blog, I said "OHHHHHH". It's a knit cap. Now I can go back to sleep. Crazy things bother a person at 4am.

Amanda on August 26, 2015:

So funny my mom was from KY and dad from Mississippi and i grew up in Wisconsin...all my friends said beanie...but my family said Toboggan. ..so i was very confused haha..

Sue on August 09, 2015:

In Minnesota they call a casserole a hot dish.

In North Carolina a hot dish is a gal who is doing something she shouldn't be doing!!!!!

Kristi on June 29, 2015:

Your article was a great source of laughter in my office today. I am a "Northerner" from Florida that just recently moved "South" to Alabama. I had never heard the term toboggan used to describe a knitted cap; we always called them beanies. One of the guys I worked with asked if we had any more toboggans and I had absolutely NO idea what he was talking about. We got into a pretty healthy debate about the meaning of the word and that is how I found your article. Thanks for the clarification! :)

KRC (author) from Central Texas on March 27, 2015:

Preston, I'm glad you found my article. Toboggan-wearers unite! LOL. You can print this and show them you are definitely not alone.

Preston on March 26, 2015:

I can't believe that this article is over 6 years old. I was raised in Texas saying toboggan meaning a hat, but my wife always kids me about it...so much so, that I finally caved in and conceded that I must be wrong. Wow, I can't wait to print this article and show her!

KRC (author) from Central Texas on February 16, 2015:

I'm with you Chris! Glad you found you're not alone!

Chris on February 16, 2015:

I'm from Berlin, MD but born in SC, dad from Texas, mom born in Berlin, which is on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. All I ever knew to call a winter hat was "toboggan", I didn't even know it was also a sled till I was in my late 20's. I still call a hat a toboggan and always will!! I have co-workers making fun of me all the time, however I'm old school to a fault sometimes and will carry on southern tradition of all things unique about our cultural upbringing. I live in Annapolis, MD now. You can take the boy out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the boy!!!

Greg Smith on January 06, 2015:

I'm from southern Ohio and I've never known knitted caps by anything other than a toboggan. My parents were born and raised in Kentucky and West Virginia, so that's probably were I learned it from. My wife to be is from Cleveland and laughs at me every time I speak it. ;)

Tami on December 02, 2014:

We call them toboggans here in Kentucky too. That's a funny story! I grew up in Ohio and never heard winter caps called a toboggan there.

Related Articles