Word History of TABBY
A silk cloth with a wavy pattern was once made in a part of the city of Baghdad, now the capital of the modern nation of Iraq. In Arabic the cloth was known as ‘attābī, from Al-‘Attābīya, the name of its place of origin. The name for the cloth passed into medieval Latin as attabi and then into French as tabis. When the word was borrowed into English as tabby in the 1600s, it only referred to a kind of silk with a wavy, mottled pattern. Before long, however, people noticed a resemblance between the cloth and the striped or mottled markings on their domestic cats. Tabby has been the name for this type of cat since then.