A clothes horse, sometimes called a clothes rack, drying horse, clothes maiden, drying rack, drying stand, Frostick, airer, or (Scots) winterdyke, is a frame upon which clothes are hung after washing, indoors or outdoors, to dry by evaporation. The frame is usually made of wood, metal or plastic.
Used figuratively, the single-word term "clotheshorse" describes men and women who are so passionate about clothes that they maintain unusually large wardrobes of the latest, most stylish clothes; will never willingly appear in public in unstylish or outdated clothes; and will often change into many different stylish outfits during a single day. In this context, the term is similar to "fashion plate" which also originally referred to another item (a decorative plate with a picture of a fashionable person or people painted on it) before it was used to describe a habitually fashionably dressed person.
Types of drying racks
There are many types of drying racks, including large, stationary outdoor racks, smaller, folding portable racks, and wall-mounted drying racks. A drying rack is similar in usage and function to a clothes line, and used as an alternative to the powered clothes dryer. The name clothes horse was in use by the early nineteenth century; from 1850 the term was also used figuratively for a male fop or female quaintrelle, a person whose main function is or appears to be to wear or show off clothes.
A pulley clothes airer, sometimes described as "Victorian", "Edwardian", or "Lancashire", can be loaded and unloaded at a convenient height, and hoisted out of the way to ceiling height while the clothes dry. It comprises two iron frames positioned as far apart as desired to provide a suitable length, with wooden laths, typically four or six, passed through holes in them. The frames are suspended from the ceiling by a system of rope and pulleys. The result is a hoistable rack with several parallel bars on which clothes can be draped out of the way, or hung, extending further down, with clothes hangers. The racks are also used in kitchens, to hang utensils out of the way.
- "DYKE, DIKE, n. and v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., documents use of "clothes horse" in 1807, and "human clothes horse" in 1850
- Typical parts available commercially to assemble a pulley airer
- Images found by Google image search for "pulley airer"