This always makes me wonder:

Why do we wear a deodorant?

It is just a spray i.e. mist that you put on your body.

I tried to find the verb 'wear' for this special usage in popular dictionaries but did not get the answer.

  • We can wear things that we draw or paint on our bodies too. What are the dictionaries or definitions given by dictionaries that make you think this usage isn't covered? – Damkerng T. Sep 24 '15 at 12:23
  • True that! I'm asking this special use of 'wear' in such cases @DamkerngT. – Maulik V Sep 24 '15 at 12:23
  • What could be an alternative to this? I mean, what can one do but "wear" a deodorant? In Russian, we have a special short-form participle надушен(а) for perfume (not sure about deodorants), but this would hardly work in English. – CowperKettle Sep 24 '15 at 12:28
  • I have no problem with putting on some deo. But here...! @CopperKettle – Maulik V Sep 24 '15 at 12:31
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    You wear clothes after you put them on, and in the same way, you can wear deodorant after you put it on. It stays on your body just like a hat or socks. – ColleenV parted ways Sep 24 '15 at 13:12

I think it stands to reason that when we can use the verb wear for perfume, we can also use it for a deodorant.

According to MW, the entry 2 says the verb "wear" means to use or have something on your body such as "Are you wearing perfume?"


Wiktionary gives a good list of the ways this word can be used.

I especially think the third definition is relevant:

  1. To bear or display in one's aspect or appearance.

    "She wore a smile all day."  "He walked out of the courtroom wearing an air of satisfaction."

"Wear" can even refer to "airs" or feelings that we give off - it's quite a flexible word!

Just for reference, at least in British English I think it's completely standard to use "wear" this way for e.g. perfume: I wear perfume, you wear perfume, are you wearing perfume? Deoderant is similar, but you might also hear "use", e.g. I'm wearing deoderant [right now], I use deoderant [when I visit my girlfriend].

  • Not in BrE, but in most of the registers, it's fine. My question is what makes only deo/tattoo a special case for the verb wear. – Maulik V Sep 24 '15 at 12:48
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    @MaulikV I'm not sure I understand you - it is not a particularly special case (as I tried to demonstrate by pointing out that you can even "wear a smile" or "wear an air of satisfaction"). – jfhc Sep 24 '15 at 12:50
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    @Maulik It's actually not; you can wear makeup, as jfhc mentioned you can wear a smile... I don't believe anyone "wears" a tattoo, any more than they would "wear" a birthmark, because those are permanent. To "wear" something implies impermanence. – WendiKidd Sep 25 '15 at 5:40
  • You can wear a tattoo. Also, I have heard it many times. @WendiKidd – Maulik V Sep 28 '15 at 5:03

You carry a perfume on your skin, and that includes deodorants. In the same way that your skin wears any substance you may smear, rub, spray, or apply on.

  • But 'wear' generally 'covers' the body! I think! – Maulik V Sep 28 '15 at 4:53
  • You can also put on a pair of glasses, put on a sweater, and try on a dress. So, yes, put on some deodorant is perfectly fine, but I prefer to say: "wear a scent or perfume" because I can feel I'm wearing, it, and even if people can't see, they can smell it. Women also wear makeup e.g. "That's a nice lipstick you're wearing". – Mari-Lou A Sep 28 '15 at 5:00

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