November 07, 2013
chenille (noun)
\shuh-NEEL\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a thick fuzzy fabric
How do you use it?
Lauren's bedspread is made of very soft chenille.
Are you a word wiz?

The origin of the word "chenille" has something to do with an animal. What animal do you think figures into the history of "chenille"?

Actually, there are two animals in the "chenille" story, with the dog and caterpillar both playing roles. "Chenille" traces to the Latin "canis" meaning "dog." Latin speakers used "canis" to form "canicula," meaning "little dog." French speakers adopted "canicula" as "chenille." They saw things differently because they used "chenille" to mean "caterpillar" instead of "dog." English speakers adopted "chenille" and used it first for a type of yarn with a fuzzy or caterpillar-like texture and later for fabric made from such yarn.
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