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Breck is an English word of Gaelic origin which originally meant freckled. It may also be used as a noun, both common and proper. As a proper noun it is more commonly a surname in the US and a first name in the UK.

Gaelic synonyms of breck include: trout, brown trout, spot, speckle; trout-coloured, speckled, dotty, spotty, spotted, pocked, dapple-grey, tartan, piebald, variegated, brindle, chequered, pied, and mottled.

The word breck may also refer to a break in a body or breach in a topiary. Or a bruise. Or it may refer to a lot of uninclosed arable land; a sheepwalk; a field of grass, or a lowland surrounded by greenery such as a heath or garth.

Similar surnames are Aleck (Scottish), Brick, Freca and Frick (all English).

Breck may also be the abbreviation of a place name, as in Brecknockshire, England or Breckenridge, Colorado.

 


Breck was also the name of a shampoo company founded in 1930 by one Dr. Breck in Springfield, MA. When his son inherited the company in 1936, he hired an ilustrator to make advertisements in the leading women's home and fashion magazines of the day. The illustrator, one Charles Sheldon, had studied in Paris under Alphonse Mucha, a proponent of the Art Nouveau style. Sheldon painted woman and young girls who exemplified a demure vision of beauty and purity that was the feminine ideal of the day.

In 1957 Sheldon retired and passed the reigns on to John William Williams. At first Williams attempted to merely emulate Sheldon, but eventually he began using celebrities and US Junior Miss winners as his models, painting them in a more glamorous and provactive way to mirror the changes due to the women's liberation movement.

Notable Breck Girls include: Cybil Shepard (1968 Junior Miss from Tennesse), Jaclyn Smith (1971, 1973), Kim Basinger (1972, 1974), and Brooke Shields (1974).

In 1963 a large chemical conglomerate based out of New Jersey bought out Breck but kept the name the same for marketing purposes. In 1976 Williams died and the company no longer used illustrations to sell their shampoo. In 1990 the Dial Corporation bought them out and retired the brand name Breck. In 2006, Dollar General bought out Dial.

Ask a baby-boomer and they'll tell you that everyone wanted to be (or have) a Breck Girl. Ask a Gen Xer and they ask you what the hell a Breck Girl is.

Despite Breck no longer being the company ensuring that US consumers soft, "beautiful hair," the term "Breck Girl" was used as a slur against presidential hopeful John Edwards who was known to primp his coif excessively. Supposedly, the comment originated from a 2003 memo made by a "Bush associate" and resurfaced in the during the 2008 presidential race when Edwards listed two haircuts at $800 as "campaign expenses". Whether the haircuts actually cost that much or were an attempt to conceal the affair he was later revealed to be hiding is unknown; in either case, beauty has a definite price.