: thoroughgoing, uncompromising
a dyed-in-the-wool conservative

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Early yarn makers would dye wool before spinning it into yarn to make the fibers retain their color longer, an order of operations still frequently followed. In 16th-century England, that make-it-last coloring practice led writers to draw a comparison between the dyeing of wool and the way children could, if taught early, be influenced in ways that would last throughout their lives. In the 19th-century U.S., the wool-dyeing practice put eloquent Federalist orator Daniel Webster in mind of a certain type of Democrat whose attitudes were as unyielding as the dye in unspun wool. Of course, Democrats were soon using the term against their opponents, too, but over time the partisanship of the expression faded and it is now a general term describing anyone or anything that seems unlikely or unwilling to change.

Examples of dyed-in-the-wool in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Can either of them win over a dyed-in-the-wool MGB skeptic? Tim Pitt, Robb Report, 26 Oct. 2023 Located in remote destinations along iconic byways, motor lodges are designed to accommodate dyed-in-the-wool road warriors. Krista Simmons, Sunset Magazine, 22 May 2023 We’re dyed-in-the-wool April Fools’ Day haters around here, but hold on one second — Duolingo and Peacock might be on to something. Richard Lawler, The Verge, 1 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dyed-in-the-wool.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1580, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dyed-in-the-wool was in 1580


Dictionary Entries Near dyed-in-the-wool

Cite this Entry

“Dyed-in-the-wool.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dyed-in-the-wool. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

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