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1530s, kalyko, corruption of Calicut (modern Kozhikode), seaport on Malabar coast of India, where Europeans first obtained it. In 16c. it was second only to Goa among Indian commercial ports for European trade. Extended to animal colorings suggestive of printed calicos in 1807, originally of horses.
all-cotton fabric woven in plain, or tabby, weave and printed with simple designs in one or more colours. Calico originated in Calicut, India, by the 11th century, if not earlier, and in the 17th and 18th centuries calicoes were an important commodity traded between India and Europe.