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[flan-l] /ˈflæn l/
a soft, slightly napped fabric of wool or wool and another fiber, used for trousers, jackets, shirts, etc.
a soft, warm, light fabric of cotton or cotton and another fiber, thickly napped on one side and used for sleepwear, undergarments, sheets, etc.
  1. an outer garment, especially trousers, made of flannel.
  2. woolen undergarments.
  1. a washcloth.
  2. Informal. nonsense; humbug; empty talk.
  3. Informal. flattery; insincere or overdone praise.
verb (used with object), flanneled, flanneling or (especially British), flannelled, flannelling.
to cover or clothe with flannel.
to rub with flannel.
1300-50; Middle English flaunneol, perhaps dissimilated variant of flanyn sackcloth < Welsh; compare Welsh gwlanen woolen article, equivalent to gwlân wool (akin to Latin lāna) + -en suffix denoting a single item (as a piece of a mass noun or singular of a collective plural) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for flannel
  • Stock up on handmade shoes, flannel shirts, and cast-iron pans.
  • flannel sheets are cozy on cold nights, and repurposed flannel sheets make warm lap blankets.
  • flannel- lined body, snap-over storm placket, and side snaps all add insulation and help adjust the fit against brisk winds.
  • flannel, corduroy, cotton and denim work well for quilting.
  • At the door, policemen in gray-flannel uniforms keep a close watch.
  • Unlike the jacket, the shirt stretches, and it's as soft and welcoming as flannel.
  • She wore two green plaid flannel shirts and a thin torn jacket.
  • flannel-clad fans expecting a mosh pit might be disappointed.
  • He fumbled with the buttons on her flannel shirt and pulled it down around her shoulders.
  • Everyone looked the same and dressed in the same materials: worsted, flannel, or corduroy.
British Dictionary definitions for flannel


a soft light woollen fabric with a slight nap, used for clothing
(pl) trousers or other garments made of flannel
(Brit) a small piece of cloth used to wash the face and hands; face cloth US and Canadian equivalent washcloth
(Brit, informal) indirect or evasive talk; deceiving flattery
verb (transitive) -nels, -nelling, -nelled (US) -nels, -neling, -neled
to cover or wrap with flannel
to rub, clean, or polish with flannel
(Brit, informal) to talk evasively to; flatter in order to mislead
Derived Forms
flannelly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: probably variant of flanen sackcloth, from Welsh gwlanen woollen fabric, from gwlân wool
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for flannel

c.1500, probably from Welsh gwlanen "woolen cloth," from gwlan "wool," from Celtic *wlana, from PIE *wele- "wool."

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for flannel

fabric made in plain or twill weave, usually with carded yarns. It is napped, most often on both sides, the degree of napping ranging from slight to so heavy that the twill weave is obscured. Fibre composition and amount of napping are dependent on the intended use. Flannel is a relatively warm fabric, since still air is held in the fabric because of the napping. Addition of a man-made fibre to the blend increases the resistance to abrasion and hence may lengthen the life of the fabric. Furthermore, some of these blends help to prevent stretching, so that a better fit is maintained. Crease retention is improved with some blends such as acrylic fibre.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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