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The word was reintroduced into English in the 17th century from French, and was for some time considered French; in French, "blonde" is a feminine adjective; it describes a woman with blonde hair."Blond", with its continued gender-varied usage, is one of few adjectives in written English to retain separate masculine and feminine grammatical genders.

However, linguists who favor a Latin origin for the word say that Medieval Latin blundus was a vulgar pronunciation of Latin flavus, also meaning "yellow".

Most authorities, especially French, attest the Frankish origin.

It gradually eclipsed the native term "fair", of same meaning, from Old English fæġer, causing "fair" later to become a general term for "light complexioned".

This earlier use of "fair" survives in the proper name Fairfax, from Old English fæġer-feahs meaning "blond hair".

An alternative hypothesis was presented by Canadian anthropologist Peter Frost, who claims blond hair evolved very quickly in a specific area at the end of the last ice age by means of sexual selection.

According to Frost, the appearance of blond hair and blue eyes in some northern European women made them stand out from their rivals, and more sexually appealing to men, at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.For example, the OED records its use in 19th-century poetic diction to describe flowers, "a variety of clay ironstone of the coal measures", "the colour of raw silk", The hair color gene MC1R has at least seven variants in Europe, giving the continent a wide range of hair and eye shades.Based on a genetic research carried out at three Japanese universities, the date of the genetic mutation that resulted in blond hair in Europe has been isolated to about 11,000 years ago during the last ice age.Babies may be born with blond hair even among groups where adults rarely have blond hair, although such natural hair usually falls out quickly.Blond hair tends to turn darker with age, and many children's blond hair turns light, medium, dark brown or black before or during their adult years.Roughly ten percent of French females are natural blondes, of which 60% bleach their hair to a lighter nuance of blonde.