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[shuh-neel] /ʃəˈnil/
a velvety cord or yarn of silk or worsted, for embroidery, fringes, etc.
fabric made with a fringed silken thread used as the weft in combination with wool or cotton.
any fabric with a protruding pile, as in certain rayon bedspreads.
a deep-pile, durable, woolen carpeting with chenille weft: the most expensive power-loomed floor covering.
Origin of chenille
1730-40; < French: velvety cord, literally, caterpillar < Latin canīcula, with etymological sense “little dog,” though attested only in senses “shrewish woman, dogfish, Sirius” (see canicular); for parallel use of “cat” in same sense, see caterpillar Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for chenille
Historical Examples
  • Bags or sachets of the forms illustrated were painted or embroidered in ribbonwork, chenille, tulle, and coloured silks.

    Dress design Talbot Hughes
  • The boy added that the chenille was so ugly that it was without doubt German and no good.

    The A.E.F. Heywood Broun
  • Selina sat at the parlor melodeon, fingering the keys, her glance wandering to the chenille portieres.

    McTeague Frank Norris
  • About the easiest body to make is one of chenille ribbed with tinsel.

    How to Tie Flies E. C. Gregg
  • Gimcracks in an tagre; a festoon of chenille monkeys hanging from the gaselier.

  • I consider that, with the chenille swallow, it is worth thirty shillings.

    Red Pottage Mary Cholmondeley
  • With worsted, ravelings or chenille let the child sew once around this circle.

  • They are, however, by far the best embroideresses in chenille,—silk and gold.

  • Above the dog is a small yellow and black pansy, then a large blue 'lace' butterfly, on a chenille patch, and a brown flying bird.

    English Embroidered Bookbindings Cyril James Humphries Davenport
  • Instead of sewing-silk, standards had best be worked with chenille, such as comes on purpose for embroidering.

British Dictionary definitions for chenille


a thick soft tufty silk or worsted velvet cord or yarn used in embroidery and for trimmings, etc
a fabric of such yarn
a rich and hard-wearing carpet of such fabric
Word Origin
C18: from French, literally: hairy caterpillar, from Latin canicula, diminutive of canis dog
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for chenille

"velvety cord," 1738, from French chenille, properly "caterpillar," literally "little dog" (13c.), from Latin canicula "a dog" (also "a violent woman; the star Sirius; the worst throw in dice"), diminutive of canis "dog" (see canine (n.)). So called for its furry look. Cf. caterpillar.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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