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.
an outer garment, especially trousers, made of flannel.
woolen undergarments.
a washcloth.
Informal. nonsense; humbug; empty talk.
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)

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World English Dictionary
flannel (ˈflænəl)
1.  a soft light woollen fabric with a slight nap, used for clothing
2.  (plural) trousers or other garments made of flannel
3.  See cotton flannel
4.  (Brit) US and Canadian equivalent: washcloth a small piece of cloth used to wash the face and hands; face cloth
5.  informal (Brit) indirect or evasive talk; deceiving flattery
vb , -nels, -nelling, -nelled, -nels, -neling, -neled
6.  to cover or wrap with flannel
7.  to rub, clean, or polish with flannel
8.  informal (Brit) to talk evasively to; flatter in order to mislead
[C14: probably variant of flanen sackcloth, from Welsh gwlanen woollen fabric, from gwlân wool]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1503, from Welsh gwlanen "woolen cloth," from gwlan "wool." Not a universally accepted etymology; some suggest an Anglo-Fr. dim. of O.Fr. flaine "a kind of coarse wool."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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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Example sentences
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.
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