I thought it would be like:

  1. Cheveu Saule
  2. Saule Cheveu
  3. Cheveux Saule
  4. Saule Cheveux
  5. Cheveux Seche

What would be the correct translation of singular willow hair?
This is the name of a beauty and hair products company, which they want translated. The name is a creative analogy of the natural hair, and the waviness of a willow. It's for Beauty and hair products. Just a company name

  • 3
    What does that mean in English?
    – Laurent S.
    Aug 6, 2015 at 23:59
  • 5
    Can you provide us with some context? It would help us understand what it means and how to translate it. Honestly, right now, I have no clue what this is about.
    – Kareen
    Aug 7, 2015 at 1:31
  • 1
    I am having a hard time finding this expression beside the name of a hairdresser salon. With an image search, the results do not have much in common. We really need you to describe what kind of hair is a "willow hair" to you. What I can already tell you is that the translation will be plural and I have never heard any of your proposition in France.
    – Chop
    Aug 7, 2015 at 5:38
  • 4
    What kind of company is it? Beauty and hair products? Is it the name of a haircut or a shampoo? What are the characteristics (hair that's long, short, straight, curly, wavy, dry)? Something else? Tree cutting company? Is this a literal willow we're talking about? If you have absolutely no context yourself, I strongly suggest you contact the company who gave you this to translate and ask them what this is about. Blind translation is always bad, blind professional translation is... well, worse.
    – Kareen
    Aug 7, 2015 at 14:45
  • 2
    Please explain what “willow hair” is. Is this a hairstyle? or some biological feature of a tree? or something else? If it's a hairstyle, what defines it? I could find some pictures 1 2 3 but I don't see the difference with “wavy hair”, is there one? Aug 7, 2015 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


This question illustrates many of the difficulties of translation. You can't hope to take a phrase and transpose it directly into another language. You'd like to preserve the construction and the literal meaning and the connotations but sometimes one of these is the best you can do.

The expression “Willow Hair” in English is ambiguous. The two most obvious interpretations are a hair (as in a thin strand of material) of the willow tree, or a hairstyle that is in some way related to the willow tree (presumably a hairstyle that looks like a willow tree). Many other interpretations are possible, for example (if Willow is capitalized) the hair(style) of someone called Willow.

It appears that you're referring to a hairstyle. The French word for hair as in one strand of hair on a human's head is cheveu. However, to refer to a person's hair as in the whole set of hair they have on their head, you have to use the plural: cheveux. For example, if you want to say that somebody has dry hair, you'd say “il a des cheveux secs”. You can also use a different word: chevelure. But neither of these words is commonly used for hairstyles if the style is the result of cutting the hair: instead, we say “une coupe …”, where coupe (a cut) is to be understood in context to refer to a hair cut. If the style is a result of doing something to the hair, cheveux is the natural term. Cheveux can also be used when referring to cutting, for example in “cheveux longs” (long hair) and “cheveux courts” (short hair).

Referring to a haircut in the name of a hairdresser's saloon would make sense. For beauty products, it doesn't make so much sense.

If you want to translate “haircut/hairstyle of a willow”, you can use

  • coupe en saule” — hair cut like a willow
  • cheveux en saule” — hair like a willow
  • cheveux de saule” — hair (like those) of a willow

All of this is not very relevant if you aren't actually trying to refer to a hairstyle and instead just combining two words to look creative.

I looked for images of a willow hairstyle and this is a representative sample of what I found (computer model by Xandher):

Willow hair

From this and other examples (1, 2, I don't see a difference between “willow hair” and “wavy hair”. Wavy hair, in French, would be “cheveux ondulés”.

If you want to translate “willow hair” using a more precise or less mundane term than “wavy hair”, you'll run into a cultural problem. For a French person, the willow metaphor is pretty unambiguously negative. If you tell someone they have hair like a willow, they'll think you called them ugly. Hair like a willow evokes the branches of the weeping willow which are just dropping there. The fact that it's called a weeping willow (same literal translation in French: saule pleureur) doesn't help. Examples: “get rid of the weeping willow look”, “avoid (…) very voluminous cuts (weeping willow effect)”.

For a brand name that's supposed to evoke beauty, don't evoke the looks of a weeping willow.

Brand names are rarely translated literally. You have two choices:

  • Keep the English name untranslated (use it as a proper name — French people have iPad devices from Apple, not iBloc devices from Pomme)
  • Look for a different name (possibly a different name in different countries due to different cultural connotations). (And no, I'm not going to propose a name — that requires knowing what you're selling and where, and it's something professionals charge thousands of euros for.)
  • Many hairdresser salons use hair in their name in France (I knew many but the only to come to mind is "Atmosp'hair").
    – Chop
    Aug 8, 2015 at 10:47

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