Wear somebody's pin


Senior Member
Spanish - Argentina
Hello, can you help me with this phrase? It's featured in the play by Tennessee Williams "A Streetcar Named Desire". At one point in the play, Blanche says to Stella:

"Do you remember Shep Huntleigh? Of course you remember Shep Huntleigh. I went out with him at college and wore his pin for a while."

I don't know how to interpret this, does anyone know what it means? Is it literal? If you need any more context please tell me, but I think it's all there.

Thank you!!
  • Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    From what I understand, if a boy is going out with a girl and he is a member of a group or college which has a signature pin (like a badge), then he gives it to his girlfriend so that everyone knows who she is.

    I think it's old fashioned - I have read about it in a few books, but never actually seen anyone do it!

    I hope this helps!


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    To "pin," "get pinned" or "be pinned" is a U.S. tradition that occurs, as Tegs noted, when a college man, usually a member of a fraternity or similar group, gives his girlfriend a pin as a symbol of their "going steady" or commitment to one another. In some circles, this pinning is tantamount to a promise, or pre-engagement, meaning that the two are committed to some day marry, but they are not ready to get engaged yet.

    I don't know if the tradition still exists. It certainly did when I was in college twenty years ago.

    At my school, women in sororities held special candlelight rituals that signified when a woman got pinned (or engaged).

    The girl who got pinned would have a long candle with a small bouquet of flowers surrounding it sent to the sorority house during the day. After the evening meal, all of the sisters would gather and form a large circle in the main living room. The sorority president lit the candle, and would pass it around the circle while all of the girls sang sorority songs. There were usually fifty or more girls, so it took some time for the candle to go around.

    The candle made 1 rotation for luck, then was passed around again.

    If a girl blew out the candle during the second rotation, it meant she had been recently pinned.

    If she blew it out during the third rotation, it meant she had recently gotten engaged to marry.


    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    Waw, I didn't know it was that complex! Thanks for the info - it's really interesting. Come to think of it - I've only ever read about it in American books :)


    Senior Member
    American English
    Later in US history it was wearing someone's ring. When you were a junior in high school, you could get a class ring. It had the school insignia, the year you would graduate, and some sort-of insignia of an activity in which you excelled. If you wanted to "go steady," you would give your class ring to someone else. That other person would wear it on a chain around their neck--usually (during my era) on a long chain. At times, the ring was worn on the girl's finger with a big wad to make it fit her small hand. The wad was made by piling up kleenex or toilet paper, and wrapping it tight with dental floss. The entire wad was then covered over with fingernail polish and left to dry before wearing it on your finger or slipping it through a long chain.

    Does anyone else remember these unusual rituals?


    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    I graduated from high school in 1962, at which time many girls wore the "letter jackets" or "letter sweaters" of their boyfriends. Sometimes the class ring was worn on a chain around their necks. Of course, the jackets usually were much larger than what the girl would usually wear. We got our class rings during the junior year,so they weren't worn as long.

    In college, then, I attended a number of "pinning" ceremonies, where the boy's frat would serenade the girl's sorority.....this was pre-engagement.

    I don't know why the practice would have subsided, at least within the Greek system on today's campuses.


    Senior Member
    USA English (southern)
    I don't know if the tradition still exists. It certainly did when I was in college twenty years ago.

    That brings back fond memories.

    No, wait... I just remembered I didn't have a girlfriend in college. It actually brings back horrible, painful memories.


    New Member
    The tradition still exists at Westminster College in New Wilmington PA. I have seen many pinning ceremonies and I think that they are sweet!

    The sorority girls do not sing for the pinning

    All of the members of the sorority gather outside of Ferguson (the sorority building because they aren't allowed to have houses)

    1 time around with the candle means a pinning

    2 times around means an engagement

    3 times around means a baby (no one wants 3 times around)

    If it's just a pinning, then after that, the guys from the guy's fraternity will come over singing and cheering their fraternity's songs and cheers. Each fraternity is different but I know that Phi Kappa Tau will have the boyfriend's brothers give the pinned girl roses and read poetry (or parts of a song etc) to her then a romantic song is played by someone who has a dock for their I-Pod and the boyfriend sings. They usually kiss and are all sweet for a bit, then everyone goes back to the boyfriend's frat house (cheering and singing sorority and fraternity songs and cheers) Once at the house, everyone will meet in the Fraternity's party room leaving a space in the middle for the couple to slow dance as a pinned couple. Then there is a mixer.

    It's a very sweet tradition that probably won't die on this quaint campus and I'm proud to have gone there!


    Senior Member
    I went to a university that had neither sororities nor fraternities, so I don't know about pins but I will say that at 27 (which I hopes doesn't make me old) I'm very familiar with mjscott's tradition concerning class rings. When I was in high school (it wasn't really done in college - I think we had "grown out of it" by that point), I definitely wore two of my boyfriends' rings, one on a chain and one with yarn wrapped around it so it fit on my finger (which was much smaller than his). One of them wore my ring on a chain, the other wore it on his pinky finger.

    I grew up in a small Midwestern town, so I don't know if this is just a regional thing, but I assure you there are parts of America where the tradition of exchanging class rings is alive and well.