beach 'blanket'

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meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, the following are the first definitions of "blanket" in the dictionaries.

1a: a large usually oblong piece of woven fabric used as a bed covering
Source: Merriam-Webster

1. A blanket is a large square or rectangular piece of thick cloth, especially one which you put on a bed to keep you warm.
Source: Collins

1. a large, rectangular piece of soft fabric, often with bound edges, used especially for warmth as a bed covering.
Source: Dictionary.com


And the following is a definition of "beach blanket" in Merriam-Webster.

beach blanket
noun
: a blanket one sits or lies on at the beach



Are beach blankets, which people use as sheets to just sit or lie on at the beach, not to cover themselves for warmth, called "blankets" because any large square/rectangular piece of thick soft fabric can be called a blanket?
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Hmm. What other large rectangular pieces of soft thick cloth are there? If we had other examples, we could check whether we called them blankets too. Actually we can move away from that: a fire blanket is shaped like a blanket but for throwing over fires to put them out. Here the shape and something of the texture justify the name. (And the fact that they cover something, but then a beach blanket covers wet sand and spiky bits of sea urchin.)

    And I think I call those beach towels, anyway, and they actually could be used for drying after a swim as well as for sitting and lying on, so they're proper towels.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Are beach blankets, which people use as sheets to just sit or lie on at the beach, not to cover themselves for warmth, called "blankets" because any large square/rectangular piece of thick soft fabric can be called a blanket?
    No. They are called "beach blankets". It is unlikely anyone would call it just a blanket, just as it is unlikely that anyone would call a fire blanket just a blanket.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Snow and fire-fighting foam and such things can form blankets, in a metaphorical sense, because they are in some sense like the coverings that are actual blankets. But the metaphor ignores the cloth entirely, so they don't help decide.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    The beach blankets I'm thinking of are too big for towels.
    And no-one would use it to keep themselves warm on a bed :eek: :D The second definition of blanket applies more broady than the common (listed first) meaning for a "bed blanket". Any blanket that's not a "bed blanket" is specified as in "beach blanket" etc.
    blan•ket /ˈblæŋkɪt/ n. any covering or layer that extends over something: a blanket of snow.
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    The beach blankets I'm thinking of are too big for towels.
    View attachment 36905
    That's a wonderful invention but I have never seen that in real life despite living in a seaside city!

    There is an old romantic comedy film called "Beach Blanket Bingo." It's set among young people who hang out at the beach.

    The word blanket generally refers to a large woolen or otherwise warm rectangle of fabric for the bed.

    But English being what it is, you can then make the word into any compound noun or metaphor you want.

    Fire blanket, beach blanket, picnic blanket, horse blanket (for horses in winter), heated electric blanket, blanket of snow, and even the food called pigs in a blanket. You can have a blanket of clouds or a blanket of leaves or even flowers in a field. If you invent a new thing with a new function that is basically a large rectangle of heavy fabric you can name it a something or other blanket, or sheet, if you want.

    Interestingly there is a whole class of things that are like half size blankets. You use them to cuddle up on the sofa or if you are watching sports outside in cold weather. These are always labeled "throws" or maybe laprugs because it's really important no one buys one thinking it's big enough for a proper bed blanket! And if it was folded up or packaged you couldn't tell. So the thing that most closely resembles a blanket has a very different name!
     
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