Linen ( /ˈlɪnɨn/) is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.
The word "linen" is cognate with the Latin for the flax plant, which is linum, and the earlier Greek linon. This word history has given rise to a number of other terms in English, the most notable of which is the English word line, derived from the use of a linen (flax) thread to determine a straight line.
Textiles in a linen weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other non-flax fibers are also loosely referred to as "linen". Such fabrics generally have their own specific names other than linen; for example, fine cotton yarn in a linen-style weave is called Madapolam.
The collective term "linens" is still often used generically to describe a class of woven and even knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles. The name linens is retained because traditionally, linen was used for many of these items. In the past, the word "linens" was also used to mean lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, waistshirts, lingerie (a word also cognate with linen), and detachable shirt collars and cuffs, which were historically made almost exclusively out of linen. The inside cloth layer of fine composite clothing fabrics (as for example jackets) was traditionally made of linen, and this is the origin of the word lining.
Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world: their history goes back many thousands of years. Fragments of straw, seeds, fibers, yarns, and various types of fabrics which date back to about 8000 BC have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Dyed flax fibers found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia suggest the use of woven linen fabrics from wild flax may date back even earlier to 36,000 BP.
Linen was sometimes used as currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen because it was seen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth. Some of these fabrics, woven from hand spun yarns, were very fine for their day, but are coarse compared to modern linen. Today linen is usually an expensive textile, and is produced in relatively small quantities. It has a long "staple" (individual fiber length) relative to cotton and other natural fibers.
Many products are made of linen: apron, bags, towels (swimmers, bath, beach, body and wash towel), napkins, bed linen, linen tablecloth, runners, chair cover, men's and women's wear.
Other articles related to "linen, linens":
... The word linen is derived from the Latin for the flax plant, which is linum, and the earlier Greek λίνον (linon) ... given rise to a number of other terms Line, derived from the use of a linen thread to determine a straight line Lining, because linen was often used to create a ...
... Affiliated companies Canadian Linen and Uniform Service and Quebec Linge AmeriPride Services is a uniform rental and linen supply company in North America ... United States and Canada, AmeriPride provides linen, uniforms, floor mats, restroom products and facilities services to nearly 150,000 customers every week ...
... The Living Linen Project was set up in 1995 as an oral archive of the knowledge of the Irish linen industry still available within a nucleus of people who were formerly ... For over three hundred years linen manufacture has been an important industry, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. 40% of the registered working population, with closer to 100,000 people dependent on the linen industry ...
... A linen tester is a strong magnifier with a measuring scale and a built-in stand ... The linen tester was invented to check the quality of woven fabrics ... Nowadays, the scale is usually divided into millimetres, older linen testers had an inch scale ...
... Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen is the last remaining of the old established Irish linen Jacquard weavers in Ireland ... Down They are almost exclusively weavers of linen fabrics, made from yarns spun from 100% flax fibre ... These fabrics are made up into luxury household linens and gifts, such as napery, bed linen, traditional lettered tea towels, etc ...
Famous quotes containing the word linen:
“It is not linen youre wearing out
But human creatures lives!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.”
—Thomas Hood (17991845)
“When the weather is bad as it was yesterday, everybody, almost everybody, feels cross and gloomy. Our thin linen tentsabout like a fish seine, the deep mud, the irregular mails, the never to-be-seen paymasters, and the rest of mankind, are growled about in old-soldier style. But a fine day like today has turned out brightens and cheers us all. We people in camp are merely big children, wayward and changeable.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)