late 14c., "flax prepared for spinning," also "refuse of flax used as kindling," somehow from O.E. lin
"flax" (see linen
), perhaps by infl. of M.Fr. linette
"grain of flax," dim. of lin
"flax," from L. linum
"flax, linen." Later "flax refuse used as tinder or for dressing wounds" (c.1400). Still used for "flax" in Scot. in Burns' time. Applied in Amer.Eng. to stray cotton fluff.