Etymology
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flannel (n.)

"warm, loosely woven woolen stuff," c. 1300, flaunneol, probably related to Middle English flanen "sackcloth" (c. 1400); by Skeat and others traced to Welsh gwlanen "woolen cloth," from gwlan "wool," from Celtic *wlana, from PIE *wele- (1) "wool" (see wool). "As flannel was already in the 16th c. a well-known production of Wales, a Welsh origin for the word seems antecedently likely" [OED].

The Welsh origin is not a universally accepted etymology, due to the sound changes involved; Barnhart, Gamillscheg, Diez suggest the English word is from an Anglo-French diminutive of Old French flaine "a kind of coarse wool." Modern French flanelle is a 17c. borrowing from English.

updated on November 20, 2014

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Definitions of flannel from WordNet

flannel (n.)
a soft light woolen fabric; used for clothing;
flannel (n.)
bath linen consisting of a piece of cloth used to wash the face and body;
Synonyms: washcloth / washrag / face cloth
flannel (n.)
(usually in the plural) trousers made of flannel or gabardine or tweed or white cloth;
Synonyms: gabardine / tweed / white
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.