Dictionary

1tabby

noun tab·by \ˈta-bē\
plural tabbies

Definition of TABBY

1
a archaic :  a plain silk taffeta especially with moiré finish
b :  a plain-woven fabric
2
[2tabby]
a :  a domestic cat with a striped and mottled coat
b :  a domestic cat; especially :  a female cat
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Illustration of TABBY

Origin of TABBY

French tabis, from Middle French atabis, from Medieval Latin attabi, from Arabic ʽattābī, from Al-ʽAttābīya, quarter in Baghdad
First Known Use: 1638

2tabby

adjective

Definition of TABBY

1
:  of, relating to, or made of tabby <a tabby vest>
2
:  striped and mottled with darker color :  brindled <a tabby cat>

First Known Use of TABBY

1640

3tabby

noun

Definition of TABBY

:  a cement made of lime, sand or gravel, and oyster shells and used chiefly along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina in the 17th and 18th centuries

Origin of TABBY

Gullah tabi, ultimately from Spanish tapia adobe wall
First Known Use: 1775
TABBY Defined for Kids

tabby

noun tab·by \ˈta-bē\
plural tabbies

Definition of TABBY for Kids

:  a domestic cat with a striped and spotted coat

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.

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