bombazine

noun bom·ba·zine \ ˌbäm-bə-ˈzēn \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of bombazine

1 : a twilled fabric with silk warp and worsted filling
2 : a silk fabric in twill weave dyed black

Origin and Etymology of bombazine

borrowed from Middle French bombasine, bombazine "cottonfabric,fabricwithacottonweftandanothermaterialaswarp" (Old French drap bombasin "cottoncloth"), borrowed from Upper Italian (Lombardy) bombasina, corresponding to Tuscan bambagino, derivative (with -ino, -ina 1-ine) of bambagia, bambagio "cotton" (borrowed from Middle Greek bambákion, derivative of bámbax, pámbax "cotton"), probably conflated with Latin bombȳcinus "ofsilk" (Medieval Latin, "ofcotton," as neuter noun, "cotton"), pseudo-Greek derivative (with -inos 1-ine) of bombyc-, bombyx "silkworm,silk," borrowed from Greek *bómbyx, presumed on the basis of bombýkion "cocoonofakindofmoth,probablyPachypasaotus," of uncertain origin — more at bombast
Note: Though the Latin adjective bombȳcinus is conventionally traced to Greek bombýkinos (as in Oxford Latin Dictionary), the Greek word is not attested until significantly later (Libanius, 4th century c.e.). The documentary record of Greek bómbyx is problematic. Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexikon, give as a source "Arist.HAap.Ath.7.352f.," but this citation—aside from the fact that section 352, of Athenaeus' Deipnosophistae, following Isaac Casaubon's division of the text, is in Book 8, not Book 7—contains only the word bombyliós, a form taken directly from Aristotle's Historia Animalium. There thus appears to be no evidence for bómbyx, in the sense "silkworm" or "silk" in Greek or Latin earlier than Pliny. Historia Animalium does offer both bombyliós or bombýlios (with the variant reading bombylís) and bombýkion, in a discussion of fabric weaving from thread spun from cocoons (551b13-16 in the Royal Prussian Academy Aristotelis opera): "Fromoneparticularlargegrub,whichhasasitwerehorns,anddiffersfromtheothers,therecomes,byametamorphosisofthegrub,firstacaterpillar,thenthecocoon,thenthenekýdalos…Certainwomenunwindandreeloffthecocoonsofthesecreatures,andafterwardsweaveafabricwiththethreadsthusunwound;aCoanwomanofthenameofPamphila,daughterofPlateus,beingcreditedwiththefirstinventionofthefabric" - "ekdétinosskṓlēkosmegálou,hòsékheihoîonkératakaìdiaphéreitônállōn,gínetaiprôtonmènmetabalóntostoûskṓlēkoskámpē,épeitabombýlios,ekdètoûtounekýdalos…ekdètoútoutoûzṓioukaìtàbombýkiaanalýousitôngynaikôntinèsanapēnizómenai,kápeitahyphaínousin;prṓtēdèlégetaihyphênaienKôiPamphílēPláteōthygátēr." Several aspects of this passage are puzzling: bombýlios (which in other contexts means "buzzinginsect,bumblebee") appears to be used for bombýkion by error (unless the original is in fact bombýlios, transferred from the insect sense, and bombýkion is an error, later extrapolated into bómbyx?); both the meaning and etymology of nekýdalos have been a conundrum for centuries (does the word refer to the seemingly dead—nékys—creature inside the cocoon?). As has been pointed out (e.g., by Bertrand Hemmerdinger, "Delaméconnaissancedequelquesétymologiesgrecques," Glotta, Band 48, Heft 1/2 [1970], p. 65-66), the cocoons in question are not from the cultivated silkworm, Bombyx mori, but rather from a species of wild moth, probably Pachypasa otus; a garment thus produced was called by Latin authors Coa uestis. As by Pliny's time silk from southern and eastern Asia was known in the Mediterranean world, the name for this locally produced "silk" was easily transferred to the more exotic and higher-quality imported fabric. The origin of bombýkion is obscure, though it seems improbable that it has any connection with Middle Persian pambak "cotton" (pace Frisk, Chantraine, Beekes, and other standard handbooks; see etymology and note at bombast). Hemmerdinger (op. cit.) cites approvingly Isidore of Seville's etymology ("Andindeeditiscalledbythisnamefromthefactthatitemptiesoutwhileitproducesthread,sothatonlyairisleftinit" - "Appellatusautemhocnomineabeoquodevacueturdumfilagenerat,etaersolusineoremaneat"); this appears to be a fanciful allusion to Greek bómbyx "flute" and the bomb- family of onomatopoeic words (see 1bomb).


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