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King Philip II of Spain, wearing the Spanish Tocado, late 1500s. Painting by Sofonisba Anguissola.

A toque (/tk/[1] or /tɒk/) is a type of hat with a narrow brim or no brim at all.[2]

Toques were popular from the 13th to the 16th century in Europe, especially France. The mode was revived in the 1930s. Now it is primarily known as the traditional headgear for professional cooks, except in Canada where the term is primarily used for knit caps.[2]

Woman's toque from England, c. 1860 at the collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Art


The word has been known in English since 1505. It came through the Medieval French toque (15th century), presumably by the way of the Spanish toca "woman's headdress", from Arabic *taqa 'طاقة' for "opening".[3] and "طاقية" "taqia" for "hat" originally for something "round" that has an opening.

The word "toque" is Breton for "hat". The spelling with the "que" is Middle Breton, and the Modern Breton spelling is "tok". Old Breton spells the word "toc". The word was borrowed into the French language for both the chef's uniform and the knit cap.


Fashion drawing from 1800 with ladies wearing toques.
Tasseled toque from 1917 New York.


Le Chef de l'Hôtel Chatham, Paris (c. 1921), oil on canvas by William Orpen

A toque blanche (French for "white hat"), often shortened to toque, is a tall, round, pleated, starched white hat worn by chefs.[4]

The toque most likely originated as the result of the gradual evolution of head coverings worn by cooks throughout the centuries.[5] Their roots are sometimes traced to the casque à meche (stocking cap) worn by 18th-century French chefs. The colour of the casque à meche denoted the rank of the wearer. Boucher, the personal chef of the French statesman Talleyrand, was the first to insist on white toques for sanitary reasons.

The modern toque is popularly believed to have originated with the French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833), who stiffened the casque à meche with cardboard[6] .



The pleated, low, round hat worn in French universities – the equivalent of the mortarboard or tam at British and American universities – is also called a toque.


In the Napoleonic era, the French first empire replaced the coronets of traditional ("royal") heraldry with a rigorously standardized system (as other respects of "Napoleonic" coats of arms) of toques, reflecting the rank of the bearer. Thus a Napoleonic duke used a toque with seven ostrich feathers and three lambrequins, a count a toque with five feathers and two lambrequins, a baron three feathers and one lambrequin, a knight only one ostrich feather (see Nobility of the First French Empire).


Toque is also used for a hard-type hat or helmet, worn for riding, especially in equestrian sports, often black and covered with black velvet.


Man wearing a tuque.

In Canada, tuque /tk/ is the common name for a knitted winter hat, or watch cap (sometimes called a beanie in other parts of the world); the spelling "touque", although not recognized by the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, is also sometimes seen in written English.[7] The Canadian-English term was assimilated from Canadian-French tuque. Toque first appeared in writing around 1870.[8][9][10]

The fashion is said to have originated with the coureurs de bois, French and Métis fur traders, who kept their woollen nightcaps on for warmth during cold winter days. Such hats are known in other English-speaking countries by a variety of names, including beanie, watch cap or stocking cap; the terms tuque and toque are unique to Canada and northern areas of the United States close to the Canada–United States border.

In 2013, CBC Edmonton launched a poll to ask viewers how they spelled the word. The options given were toque, tuque or touque. Nearly 6,500 people voted, with Edmontonians remaining divided on the issue.[11]

In recent years toques have resurfaced as an extremely popular fashion item, they are used all year round seen not only used outdoor for weather but as an indoor fashion accessory. Many toques are used to promote or advertise as items of Canadian memorabilia i.e. Canadian NHL hockey teams, Canadian provinces and cities and many more popular culture artifacts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "the definition of toque".
  2. ^ a b "Definition of Toque". Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  3. ^ "toque (n.)". Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Definitions for: Toque". Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  5. ^ Bedell, Jane (2013). So, You Want to Be a Chef?: How to Get Started in the World of Culinary Arts. Simon & Schuster. p. 69. ISBN 978-1582704364.
  6. ^ Engber, Daniel (28 March 2014). "Who Made That Chef's Toque?" – via
  7. ^ "Thousands vote on correct spelling of Canadian knit cap". CBC News. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  8. ^ "toque" and "tuque" in Katherine Barber, ed. (2004), The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2nd ed.), Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-541816-6.
  9. ^ "tuque" at
  10. ^ "toque" and "tuque" at Merriam–Webster Online.
  11. ^ Dec 09, CBC News · Posted; December 10, 2013 9:38 PM MT | Last Updated; 2013. "Thousands vote on correct spelling of Canadian knit cap | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 26 March 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)


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