AskDefine | Define flannel

Dictionary Definition



1 a soft light woolen fabric; used for clothing
2 bath linen consisting of a piece of cloth used to wash the face and body [syn: washcloth, washrag, face cloth]
3 (usually in the plural) trousers [syn: gabardine, tweed, white] [also: flannelling, flannelled]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A soft cloth material woven from wool, possibly combined with cotton or synthetic fibers.
    With the weather turning colder, it was time to dig out our flannel sheets and nightclothes.
  2. A washcloth.


soft cloth material
  • Dutch: flanel
  • French: flanelle
  • German: Flanell
  • Kurdish: فانیله
  • Dutch: waslap, washand
  • German: Waschlappen

Extensive Definition

Flannel is a soft woven fabric, of various fineness. It usually doesn't have a nap, and instead gains its softness through the loosely spun yarn it is woven from. It is commonly used to make clothing, bed sheets, and underclothing.
Flannel was originally made from carded wool or worsted yarn, but is now often made from either wool and cotton, or wool and synthetic fibre.


Flannelette is a light, napped cotton fabric imitating the texture of flannel. The weft is generally coarser than the warp. The flannel-like appearance is created by creating a nap from the weft; scratching it and raising it up. Flannelette can either have long or short nap, and can be napped on only one or two sides. It comes in many colors, both solid and patterned.
The word seems to have been first used in the early 1880s. In the 1900s it was used very extensively for things such as underclothing, night gear, dresses, dressing-gowns and shirts, and it is still used in much the same way. Flannelette was largely used by poorer classes in the early 20th century, and the flimsier kinds often ended up catching fire. A flannelette, patented under the title of "Non-flam," was made with fire-resisting properties. Flannelette is made throughout Europe, in the United States, as well as in Great Britain.
Flannel has been made since the 17th century, gradually replacing the older Welsh plains, some of which were finished as 'cottons' or friezes, which was the local textile product. In the 19th century, flannel was made particularly in towns such as Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Hay on Wye, and Llanidloes. The expansion of its production is closely associated with the spread of carding mills, which prepared the wool for spinning, this being the first aspect of the production of woollen cloth to be mechanised (apart from fulling). The marketing of these Welsh woollen clothes was largely controlled by the Drapers Company of Shrewsbury.
Originally it was made of fine, short staple wool, but by the 20th century mixtures of silk and cotton had become common., and, more specifically Westies.

Other meanings

  • In the plural, flannels refer to trousers or another article of clothing made of flannel, e.g.:
  • In the United Kingdom and New Zealand, a flannel refers to a washcloth or facecloth.
  • Australian slang defines a flannelette 'flanno' as a shirt typically worn by bogans.
  • In colloquial British English, to flannel is to not answer a question.
  • It is also used in the publishing industry to denote copy of low interest such as the flannel panel, which outlines who does what on a magazine.


flannel in Czech: Flanel
flannel in German: Flanell
flannel in French: Flanelle
flannel in Italian: Flanella
flannel in Polish: Flanela
flannel in Russian: Фланель
flannel in Swedish: Flanell
flannel in Turkish: Fanila

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ballocks, blarney, bull, bullshit, bushwa, cock, crap, eyewash, flatter, flattery, hedge, hogwash, humbug, mislead, nonsense, prevarication, rubbish, shit, soft soap, soft-soap, sweet talk, sweet-talk, waffle, weasel words
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