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1835 (but not in widespread use until 1852), from French lingerie "things made of linen," also "laundry room, linen shop" (15c.), from Old French linge "linen" (12c.), from Latin lineus (adj.) "of linen," from linum "flax, linen" (see linen). Originally introduced in English as a euphemism for scandalous under-linen.