Entries linking to Woolen
Old English wull "wool, fine soft hair which forms the coat of some animals," from Proto-Germanic *wulno (source also of Old Norse ull, Old Frisian wolle, Middle Dutch wolle, Dutch wol, Old High German wolla, German wolle, Gothic wulla), from PIE *wele- (1) "wool" (source also of Sanskrit urna; Avestan varena; Greek lenos "wool;" Latin lana "wool," vellus "fleece;" Old Church Slavonic vluna, Russian vulna, Lithuanian vilna "wool;" Middle Irish olann, Welsh gwlan "wool").
Figurative expression pull the wool over (someone's) eyes is recorded from 1838, American English. To be literally dyed in the wool (1725, as opposed to dyed in the piece) is to be so before spinning, while the material is in its raw state, which has a more durable effect; hence the figurative sense "from the beginning; most thoroughly," attested from 1809, and especially, in U.S. politics, from 1830.
suffix added to nouns to produce adjectives meaning "made of, of the nature of" (such as golden, oaken, woolen), corresponding to Latin -anus, -inus, Greek -inos; from Proto-Germanic *-ina- (from PIE *-no-, adjectival suffix).
Common in Old, Middle, and early Modern English: e.g. fyren "on fire; made of fire," rosen "made or consisting of roses," hunden "of dogs, canine," beanen "of beans," baken "baked," breaden "of bread;" Wycliffe has reeden made of or consisting of reeds." The few surviving instances are largely discarded in everyday use, and the simple form of the noun doubles as adjective (gold ring, wool sweater). Some are used in special contexts (brazen, wooden).
"cloth from woven flax," early 14c., noun use of adjective linen "made of flax" from Old English līn "flax, linen thread, linen cloth" + -en (2). Old English lin is from Proto-Germanic *linam (source also of Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old High German lin "flax, linen," German Leinen "linen," Gothic lein "linen cloth"), probably an early borrowing from Latin linum "flax, linen," which, along with Greek linon is from a non-Indo-European language. Beekes writes, "Original identity is possible, however, since the cultivation of flax in Central Europe is very old. Still, it is more probable that linon and linum derive from a Mediterranean word. The word is unknown in Indo-Iranian (but the concept is, of course)." Lithuanian linai, Old Church Slavonic linu, Irish lin probably are ultimately from Latin or Greek.
Woolen has begun the same evolution. Meaning "articles of linen fabric collectively" is from 1748, now sometimes extended unetymologically to cotton and artificial fabrics. The Old English noun also carried into Middle English as lin (n.) "linen" and persisted into 17c. and later in technical uses. The Middle English phrase under line (c. 1300) meant "in one's clothes." Linen-lifter (1650s) was old slang for an adulterous male.
updated on April 08, 2014