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[shawl] /ʃɔl/
a square, triangular, or oblong piece of wool or other material worn, especially by women, about the shoulders, or the head and shoulders, in place of a coat or hat outdoors, and indoors as protection against chill or dampness.
1655-65; < Persian shāl
Related forms
shawlless, adjective
shawllike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shawl
  • The sun hits a branch and, majestically, a shawl of butterflies shakes itself out into a thousand flying tigers.
  • These show up in daytime dresses with snugly fitted jackets or widely flaring shawl collars.
  • Those came out on a team of polyglot models, each brandishing a shawl printed with her national flag.
  • He pulled out a notebook from under a thick wool shawl to show his reams of neat notes.
  • And at the same time, she created a delicious color palette in the currently fashionable pashmina shawl shades.
  • Each one who came into the room covered her head with her shawl or whatever piece of cloth she had brought.
  • Bring a shawl or large scarf to cover appropriate body parts, if necessary.
  • Take a shawl for churches, where exposed shoulders and arms are not permitted.
  • Carry a jacket or shawl to cover your upper arms and avoid wearing shorts if you plan to visit a religious building.
  • Pack a shawl or lightweight jacket to cover your shoulders when visiting cathedrals and other holy places.
British Dictionary definitions for shawl


a piece of fabric or knitted or crocheted material worn around the shoulders by women or wrapped around a baby
Word Origin
C17: from Persian shāl
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 shawl

1660s, originally of a type of scarf worn in Asia, from Urdu and other Indian languages, from Persian shal, sometimes said to be named for Shaliat, town in India where it was first manufactured [Klein]. Cf. French châle, Spanish chal, Italian scialle, German Shawl (from English), Russian shal, all ultimately from the same source. As the name of an article of clothing worn by Western women, it is recorded from 1767.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for shawl

square, oblong, or triangular protective or ornamental article of dress worn, generally by women, over the shoulders, neck, or head. It has been a common article of clothing in most parts of the world since antiquity. The period of the 19th century up to the 1870s, when the fashion silhouette changed, was known as the "shawl period" because women in Europe and America wore shawls with almost all their clothing. At the beginning of that century, shawls were a necessity in a fashionable woman's wardrobe because dresses were thin and decollete; it was a sign of gentility to wear a shawl gracefully.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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