Definition of zibeline
: a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair, alpaca, or camel's hair
zibeline was our Word of the Day on 03/09/2011. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
Though zibeline is woven from the hair of alpacas, camels, or Angora goats, its name actually traces back to a Slavic word for the sable, a small mammal related to the weasel. The Slavic term was adopted into Old Italian, and from there it passed to Middle French, then on to English in the late 1500s. English "zibeline" originally referred to the sable or its fur, but in the late 19th century it developed a second sense, applying to a soft, smooth, slightly furry material woven from a mixture of animal hairs. It's especially suited to women's suits and coats, or, as a fashion columnist in the December 6, 1894 issue of Vogue observed, "Zibeline . . . makes an exceedingly pretty, warm theatre cloak, not too fine to be crushed into the small one-chair space."
Origin and Etymology of zibeline
zibeline (cloth), from earlier zibeline, noun, sable, sable fur, from Medieval French, from Old Italian zibellino, of Slav origin; akin to Russian sobol' sable
First Known Use: 1873
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