type of hat, 1887, American English, from "Fédora," a popular play by Victorien Sardou (1831-1908) that opened 1882, in which the heroine, a Russian princess named Fédora Romanoff, originally was performed by Sarah Bernhardt. During the play, Bernhardt, a notorious cross-dresser, wore a center-creased, soft brimmed hat. Women's-rights activists adopted the fashion. The proper name is Russian fem. of Fedor, from Greek Theodoros, literally "gift of god," from theos "god" (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + dōron "gift" (from PIE root *do- "to give").
updated on October 31, 2018