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[flaws, flos] /flɔs, flɒs/
noun, Also called floss silk (for defs 1-3).
the cottony fiber yielded by the silk-cotton tree.
silk filaments with little or no twist, used in weaving as brocade or in embroidery.
any silky, filamentous matter, as the silk of corn.
verb (used without object)
to use dental floss on the teeth.
verb (used with object)
to clean (the teeth) with dental floss.
Origin of floss
1750-60; probably < French floche, as in soie floche floss silk, Old French flosche down, velvet pile (of uncertain origin)
Related forms
flosser, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for floss silk
Historical Examples
  • The said billet was secured with floss silk sealed down in the antiquated fashion, and was written on full-sized quarto paper.

    Love and Life Charlotte M. Yonge
  • His hair was long and curled at the ends, but it looked like floss silk.

    A Little Girl in Old New York Amanda Millie Douglas
  • It was such that ladies might desire to reel it off and work it into their patterns in lieu of floss silk.

    Barchester Towers Anthony Trollope
  • Dear Lady Hyo brought me some floss silk for chrysanthemums.

  • All the floss silk curls were bound back with scarlet ribbon, and the luminous black eyes were fixed on her work.

  • His face was covered with mud, some of which was also spattered on the floss silk of his hair.

    Love's Usuries Louis Creswicke
  • It is made of linen entirely covered with embroidery in floss silk.

    Woman under Monasticism Lina Eckenstein
  • floss silk was used to protect chrysanthemum flowers from frost.

  • His fine cloak of floss silk he gave to Balbi, who looked for all the world as if he had stolen it.

  • They all had very pretty hair, and I used to wash it and comb it out until it looked as fine and bright as floss silk.

    The Story of My Life Ellen Terry
British Dictionary definitions for floss silk


the mass of fine silky fibres obtained from cotton and similar plants
any similar fine silky material, such as the hairlike styles and stigmas of maize or the fibres prepared from silkworm cocoons
untwisted silk thread used in embroidery, etc
(transitive) to clean (between one's teeth) with dental floss
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from Old French flosche down
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 floss silk



"rough silk," 1759, perhaps from French floche "tuft of wool" (16c.), from Old French floc "tuft, lock," from Latin floccus "tuft of wool." Or from an unrecorded Old English or Old Norse word from the root found in Dutch flos "plush" (17c.). Cf. the surname Flossmonger, attested 1314, which might represent a direct borrowing from Scandinavian or Low German. In "The Mill on the Floss" the word is the proper name of a fictitious river in the English Midlands.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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