Friday, 21 September 2007

A.W.A.D. - Fabric Words Used Metaphorically

We're advised not to wash our dirty linen in public. Our leaders seek to project a homespun image, even though they may be shrewd, dyed-in-the-wool politicians. Well, you may have cottoned on to the fact that today I'm talking about words related to fabrics.

Clothing is one of the three basic necessities in life and it's no wonder that our language has many idioms based on words related to cloths.

This week's A.Word.A.Day is woven around words related to fabrics that are often used metaphorically.

linsey-woolsey
(LIN-zee WOOL-zee) noun
1. A strong, coarse fabric of wool and cotton.
2. An incongruous mix.

[From Middle English linsey (linen, or from Lindsey, a village in Suffolk, UK) + woolsey (a rhyming compound of wool).]

buckram
(BUK-ruhm) noun
1. A stiff cotton fabric used in interlining garments, in bookbinding, etc.
2. Stiffness; formality

verb tr.
1. To strengthen with buckram.
2. To give a false appearance of strength, importance, etc.

[Of uncertain origin. Perhaps after Bukhara, Uzbekistan, a city noted for textiles.]

grog
(grog) noun
1. An alcoholic drink, especially rum diluted with water.
2. Any strong alcoholic drink.

[After Old Grog, nickname of Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757), who ordered diluted rum to be served to his sailors. The admiral earned the nickname from his habit of wearing a grogram cloak. Grogram is a coarse fabric of silk, wool, mohair, or a blend of them. The word grogram is from French gros grain (large grain or texture).]

bombast
(BOM-bast) noun
Pompous speech or writing.

[From Old French bombace (cotton padding), from Latin bombax (cotton).]

fustian
(FUS-chuhn) adjective
Bombastic: marked by pretentiousness or pomposity

noun
1. Pretentious speech or writing.
2. A coarse, sturdy cloth, blend of cotton and linen, usually having twill weave.

[From Old French fustaigne, from Latin fustanum, from fustis (tree trunk, stick), or from El Fostat (a suburb of Cairo, Egypt, where it was first made).]

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