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Origin of silver fox
Words nearby silver fox
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does silver fox mean?
A silver fox is a slang term for an older man, generally with gray or graying hair, who is considered attractive, charming, and classy.
How is term pronounced?
[ sil-ver foks ]
Where does silver fox come from?
While silver fox has been a name of a species of actual vulpines since the late 1700s, describing gray-haired men as silver foxes dates back to at least the 1920s, specifically to the career of baseball player Jessee Petty, who was nicknamed the Silver Fox because of his prematurely white hair and lively personality. Many other early graying male celebrities took the moniker of silver fox after that, including country singer Charlie Rich.
In early usage, a silver fox was young, attractive, and prematurely gray. And, the term silver fox was specifically associated with attractiveness and confidence in an older man since at least since the 1980s, playing on fox as slang for an attractive person (said of women by the early 1960s, extended to men later that decade).
In contemporary usage, a silver fox doesn’t have to have gray hair, though he usually does. The age difference between the older man and the younger person attracted to him is what matters more.
How is silver fox used in real life?
News and entertainment outlets regularly publish lists of the top silver foxes of the moment. The men who end up on these lists are (often white) models, actors, or TV personalities such as George Clooney, Anderson Cooper, and Steve Carell. Here, silver fox suggests the men have become sexier with age and exude a kind of old-school class and charm.
While silver fox is most often used to describe attractive, older men, it can also be used to refer to older women. Attractive older women, especially those who have refused to dye their naturally graying hair, are sometimes called silver vixen, such as Helen Mirren or Jamie Lee Curtis.
Silverfox (one word) is also the name of a Marvel Comics Universe character, a mutant from the X-Men series who can appear younger than she is and can hypnotize anyone she touches.
More examples of silver fox:
“Should the Silver Fox from @MakingAMurderer, Aaron Keller, be the next Bachelor? … “
—@itsAdam, January 2016
“In terms of red-carpet dressing for men, the grey beard is a game-changer. Grey stubble signifies that distinguished silver-fox thing—ground which José Mourinho and George Clooney keep a tight grasp on.”
—Imogen Fox, The Guardian, May 2015
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for silver fox
And who can big Pete Herring be dressing that silver-fox skin so carefully for?In the Old West|George Frederick Ruxton
Through eyes that were magnified through the glaze of tears Ysobel burrowed her head in the silver-fox collar.Just Around the Corner|Fannie Hurst
The silver-fox skin is the prize of the north, and this one was of the boy's own harvesting.Romany of the Snows|Gilbert Parker
She was wearing a moleskin coat with a deep collar of silver-fox.The Kingdom Round the Corner|Coningsby Dawson
He nodded, yawned again, and removed his round cap of silver-fox fur to scratch his curly head.The Maid-At-Arms|Robert W. Chambers