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a close-fitting, knitted cap that covers the head, neck, and tops of the shoulders, worn especially by mountain climbers, soldiers, skiers, etc.
Contemporary Examples

It features a scantily clad woman wearing a balaclava and holding a sign championing the dissident feminist anti-Putin punk band.
Miley Cyrus Twerking, Usher as Michael Jackson & More Viral Videos The Daily Beast Video March 29, 2013

Soon came whispers about a Russian corvette being spotted at balaclava Bay.
Russia Stages a Coup in Crimea Michael Weiss February 28, 2014

Police also found several weapons and balaclava head masks in the home where Maria was living.
The Mysterious Case of Maria, Greece’s Fake Roma Child Barbie Latza Nadeau October 20, 2013

Historical Examples

The distance from balaclava to London is about three thousand miles.
Knowledge is Power: Charles Knight

The Tornado, exerting her steam-powers to the utmost, was on her way back to balaclava.
The Three Commanders W.H.G. Kingston

Yet there were thousands of tons of stores lying at balaclava, rotting.
A Soldier’s Experience or A Voice from the Ranks: Showing the Cost of War in Blood and Treasure Timothy Gowing

I could not get any flour, so purchased some biscuit at balaclava.
Letters of Lt.-Col. George Brenton Laurie George Brenton Laurie

He marched us down to balaclava but the journey proved too much for our horses, over 100 stuck fast and died in the mud.
The Cause of the Charge of Balaclava Thomas Morley

There was an old fort at balaclava, on the top of a steep hill.
Taking Tales W.H.G. Kingston

He took part in the light cavalry charge at balaclava, and his name was officially recorded in the list of survivors.
Norfolk Annals Charles Mackie

(often not capitals) a close-fitting woollen hood that covers the ears and neck, as originally worn by soldiers in the Crimean War

“woolen head covering,” especially worn by soldiers, evidently named for village near Sebastopol, Russia, site of a battle Oct. 25, 1854, in the Crimean War. But the term (originally Balaclava helmet) does not appear before 1881 and seems to have come into widespread use in the Boer War. The British troops suffered from the cold in the Crimean War, and the usage might be a remembrance of that conflict. The town name (Balaklava) often is said to be from Turkish, but is perhaps folk-etymologized from a Greek original Palakion.


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