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natural fibre

any hairlike raw material directly obtainable from an animal, vegetable, or mineral source and convertible into nonwoven fabrics such as felt or paper or, after spinning into yarns, into woven cloth. A natural fibre may be further defined as an agglomeration of cells in which the diameter is negligible in comparison with the length. Although nature abounds in fibrous materials, especially cellulosic types such as cotton, wood, grains, and straw, only a small number can be used for textile products or other industrial purposes. Apart from economic considerations, the usefulness of a fibre for commercial purposes is determined by such properties as length, strength, pliability, elasticity, abrasion resistance, absorbency, and various surface properties. Most textile fibres are slender, flexible, and relatively strong. They are elastic in that they stretch when put under tension and then partially or completely return to their original length when the tension is removed.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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