c. 1300 (early 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "a type of rich silk cloth," from Old French samit, from Medieval Latin samitum, examitum, from Medieval Greek hexamiton (source of Old Church Slavonic oksamitu, Russian aksamit "velvet"), noun use of neuter of Greek adjective hexamitos "six-threaded," from hex "six" (see six) + mitos "warp thread," a word of uncertain etymology.
The reason it was called this is variously explained; the traditional explanation is that it was woven of six fibers, or in a pattern involving six. Obsolete c. 1600; revived loosely by Tennyson. German Sammet "velvet" is from French.
updated on December 06, 2021