Entries linking to woolen
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;" Wyclif 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).
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
a woolen sweater