What the heck is a chignon anyway?! Stylists throw around this term but do clients really know what we mean? Chignon is the French word for bun. In America, to the modern stylist & client we're referring to a knot or coil of hair on the back of the head. I'm sure we're all familiar with the sock that was used to create the high ballerina bun - well now most people when referring to a chignon are thinking of a looser, more romantic placement low near the hairline.