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Terry F  •  Link

"Calico is a plain-woven textile. In the UK, "calico" refers to fabric made from unbleached, and often not fully processed, cotton. It may contain unseparated husk parts, for example. The fabric is less coarse and thick than canvas or denim, but owing to its unfinished and undyed appearance, it is still very cheap. This fabric is called muslin in the US. As it is an inexpensive and readily available fabric, Calico is often used by tailors in the construction of toile -- mockups of a garment for the purpose of testing a pattern. In the US, "calico" refers to a printed cotton fabric with a small, all-over pattern, often floral." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cali…

Cum grano salis  •  Link

[In 16-17th c. also calicut, from the name of the Indian city (sense 1), called in Malayâlam K{omac}{ldotbl}ik{omac}{ddotbl}u, in Arabic Qaliq{umac}t, med.L. (Conti) Collicuthia, Pg. Qualecut (V. de Gama), Calecut (Camoens). It is not clear how the form calico, occurring in 1540 as kalyko, arose; it may have been merely an English corruption; the F. calicot has been suggested as the intermediate form, but the age of this is uncertain.]

1. The name of a city on the coast of Malabar; in the 16th c. the chief port, next to Goa, of intercourse between India and Europe; used attrib. in Calicut-cloth, Calico-cloth: see next.
c1505 DUNBAR

Soc.) App. iii. 165 (Y.) They [the Javanese] weare a kinde of Callico-cloth.

2. Hence: a. orig. A general name for cotton cloth of all kinds imported from the East (see quot. 1753); 'an Indian stuff made of cotton, sometimes stained with gay and beautiful colours' (J.); subsequently, also, various cotton fabrics of European manufacture (sometimes also with linen warp). b. Now, in England, applied chiefly to plain white unprinted cotton cloth, bleached or unbleached (called in Scotland and U.S. cotton). c. in U.S. to printed cotton cloth, coarser than muslin.

a. 1622-62 HEYLIN Cosmogr. III. (1682) 205 A Smock of Calicute, a kind of linnen cloth here made, and from hence so called.

a latter ref [spoiler]

. 1666 PEPYS Diary 24 Sept., Flags, which I had bought for the Navy, of Calico

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Sep