Locs VS. Dreads: Which Do You Prefer?

In recent years, we have debated using the term “Dreads”, because, for some of us, it deems our hair as dreadful. I must admit, for a while, I preferred “locs” for that obvious reason….until I did my research on the origin of the term. As of today, when people call my locs “dreads”, I don’t go out of my way to tell them how I used to feel about that term. Either they are oblivious to the negative connotation or simply has a deeper knowledge of where the term originated from.

Where Does The term “Dreads” originate from? 

While many may believe that it originated elsewhere, it is the Rastafarians that made them “popular’, if you will. To them, it symbolizes many things including the rejection of conventional western mainstream beauty standards.

The term “dread” is often misunderstood in this sense as meaning terror/fear as it is commonly used today, but it is also an archaic term which means “to hold in awe or reverence”. The Rastas, as well as other cultures, wear their dreads with pride of their natural roots (symbolized by their hair growing eternally from the mind and soul). The true veneration of growing dreadlocks is the inspiration of a sublime spirituality and respect for one’s true self.


The definition of “Dread”:

anticipate with great apprehension or fear.
“Jane was dreading the party”
synonyms: fear, be afraid of, worry about, be anxious about, have forebodings about.

great fear or apprehension.
“the thought of returning to New Jersey filled her with dread”
synonyms: fear, apprehension, trepidation, anxiety, worry, concern, foreboding, disquiet, unease, angst; More

a person with dreadlocks.


greatly feared; dreadful.
“he was stricken with the dread disease and died”
synonyms: awful, frightful, terrible, horrible, dreadful


No two people will agree on the term “Dreadlocs” because if you think deeply about this it’s “origin VS. cultural perception”. There’s a saying within the loc community; “I don’t have dreadlocs because there is nothing dreadful about my hair!”. I used to stand by that saying strongly, but not as much anymore. Since my research, I’ve become less offended and more aware that the term “dread” is received differently by many of us based on our personal experiences, background, and knowledge.


What are your thoughts on the term, “dread”? Which do you prefer?

One comment Add yours
  1. My son and I refer to ours as locs. My daughter refers to hers as dreads. For me it depends on who and what is being said. Some people simply don’t know and others are being intentionally derogatory.