whole cloth


Definition of whole cloth 

: pure fabrication usually used in the phrase out of whole cloth the theory was created out of whole cloth

Examples of whole cloth in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The Russians are not manufacturing an issue out of whole cloth — nationalism clearly has an authentic popular basis — but instead use their influence to magnify it. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Britain Has a Russia Collusion Scandal Now. It Looks Exactly Like Trump’s.," 22 June 2018 Trump did not invent this language from whole cloth. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Why Tyrants Dehumanize the Powerless," 20 June 2018 The willingness to create a character from whole cloth to talk you up to the tabloids is the sort of thing that wouldn't occur to most people. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "This 1990 Donald Trump quote in Playboy magazine explains today perfectly," 31 May 2018 In fact, Balogun only looks like a threat at all when viewed through the lens that the FBI fabricated whole cloth. Luke Darby, GQ, "The FBI Held a Black Activist for 5 Months for Legally Owning a Gun and Attending a Protest," 12 May 2018 Crucially, the Sisters are onstage for the opening scene, created by the directors out of whole cloth, in which Chaon Cross's Lady Macbeth mourns over a small coffin containing what appears to be her own stillborn baby. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "Aaron Posner and Teller’s Macbeth is no Tempest," 9 May 2018 Some prescriptive usage rules seem so arbitrary and unnecessary as to be made out of whole cloth. John E. Mcintyre, baltimoresun.com, "A bogus rule collides with the English language," 1 May 2018 But some Republicans warn that the Court could divine a new standard from whole cloth that could create confusion. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The GOP’s Internet Tax," 15 Mar. 2018 Rivera said the agency isn't trying to create new neighborhoods out of whole cloth. Andrew Theen, OregonLive.com, "Sixth Sextant? City considering changing thousands of addresses to 'South Portland'," 28 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whole cloth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of whole cloth

1823, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about whole cloth

Share whole cloth

Statistics for whole cloth

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whole cloth

The first known use of whole cloth was in 1823

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on whole cloth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whole cloth

Comments on whole cloth

What made you want to look up whole cloth? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a typical or ideal example

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!