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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Bombazine \Bom`ba*zine"\, n. [F. bombasin, LL. bombacinium, bambacinium, L. bombycinus silken, bombycinum a silk or cotton texture, fr. bombyx silk, silkworm, Gr. ?. Cf. Bombast, Bombycinous.] A twilled fabric for dresses, of which the warp is silk, and the weft worsted. Black bombazine has been much used for mourning garments. [Sometimes spelt bombasin, and bombasine.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

(also bombasine, bambazine), 1550s, from French bombasin (14c.) "cotton cloth," from Medieval Latin bombacinium "silk texture," from Late Latin bombycinium, neuter of bombycinius "silken," from bombyx "silk, silkworm," from Greek bombyx. The post-classical transfer of the word from "silk" to "cotton" may reflect the perceived "silk-like" nature of the fabric, or a waning of familiarity with genuine silk in the European Dark Ages, but compare bombast.


n. A fabric made from silk, wool, or cotton dyed black.


Bombazine, or bombasine, is a fabric originally made of silk or silk and wool, and now also made of cotton and wool or of wool alone. Quality bombazine is made with a silk warp and a worsted weft. It is twilled or corded and used for dress-material. Black bombazine was once used largely for mourning wear, but the material had gone out of fashion by the beginning of the 20th century.

The word is derived from the obsolete French bombasin, applied originally to silk but afterwards to tree-silk or cotton. Bombazine is said to have been made in England in Elizabeth I’s reign, and early in the 19th century it was largely made at Norwich.

In Moby-Dick, the central character, Ishmael, describes a forester (logger) looking for work as a whaler as being dressed very inappropriately in a '... sou'wester and a bombazine cloak.'

In The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather describes Mrs. Kronborg as wearing "a tan bombazine dress made very plainly" as she traveled by train to Denver with her daughter Thea. See Part II, Chapter 16.

Usage examples of "bombazine".

He almost missed her hurtling toward him in that black bombazine, spotting the flash of her red satchel just as she plowed into him.

With that, she picked up her skirts, running ahead of him, the black bombazine floating out behind her.

Kerry felt herself sinking with the weight of the voluminous bombazine skirts that marked her a widow.

She had fallen in the river, kissed him with fierce passion obviously smoldering beneath that black bombazine, and then had cried herself to sleep like a child.

She had, thankfully, disposed of the black bombazine and wore a soft gray gown cinched tightly at the waist and buttoned up to a neckline that dipped well below her shoulders.

The contents of her satchel amounted to two pairs of drawers, a chemise, and the blouse and black bombazine skirt she wore to work in the garden.

Miss Bombazine, in a black nightdress, stood breathing in the March morning air as though in relief, her majestic bust projecting over the sill.

Miss Bombazine confided, her bulging, black, silken-held breast thrusting from the window as she clung on to the handle.

On the top landing Miss Bombazine was supporting a discoloured young man against the wallpaper.

He was standing legs hard apart in the attitude of a soldier and Miss Bombazine was kneeling in front of him.

The client opposite half-turned away from Miss Bombazine towards the window.

Unceremoniously scooping in her bosom Miss Bombazine went to the window and briskly drew the curtains.

As he tugged it out he turned and saw Miss Bombazine coming along the corridor from her flat.

Korky, getting up on Sunday, saw Miss Bombazine facing the hot, gritty air from her half-open window.

They waited in the line for half an hour and Miss Bombazine bought them all ice-cream cones.