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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Caul \Caul\ (k[add]l), n. [OE. calle, kelle, prob. fr. F. cale; cf. Ir. calla a veil.]

  1. A covering of network for the head, worn by women; also, a net.

  2. (Anat.) The fold of membrane loaded with fat, which covers more or less of the intestines in mammals; the great omentum. See Omentum.

    The caul serves for the warming of the lower belly.

  3. A part of the amnion, one of the membranes enveloping the fetus, which sometimes is round the head of a child at its birth; -- called also a veil.

    It is deemed lucky to be with a caul or membrane over the face. This caul is esteemed an infallible preservative against drowning . . . According to Chrysostom, the midwives frequently sold it for magic uses.

    I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

early 14c., "close-fitting cap worn by women," from French cale "cap," back-formation from calotte, from Italian callotta, from Latin calautica "type of female headdress with pendent lappets," a foreign word of unknown origin. Medical use, in reference to various membranes, dates to late 14c. Especially of the amnion enclosing the fetus before birth from 1540s. This, if the child is born draped in it, was supersititously supposed to protect against drowning (cauls were advertised for sale in British newspapers through World War I).


n. 1 (context historical English) A style of close-fitting circular cap worn by women in the sixteenth century and later, often made of linen. (from 14th c.) 2 (context anatomy obsolete except in specific senses English) A membrane. (14th-17th c.) 3 The thin membrane which covers the lower intestines; the omentum. (from 14th c.) 4 The amnion which encloses the foetus before birth, especially that part of it which sometimes shrouds a baby’s head at birth (traditionally considered to be good luck). (from 16th c.) 5 The surface of a press that makes contact with panel product, especially a removable plate or sheet. 6 (context woodworking English) A strip or block of wood used to distribute or direct clamping force. 7 (context culinary English) (w: Caul fat).

  1. n. part of the peritoneum attached to the stomach and to the colon and covering the intestines [syn: greater omentum, gastrocolic omentum]

  2. the inner embryonic membrane of higher vertebrates (especially when covering the head at birth) [syn: veil, embryonic membrane]


A caul or cowl (, literally, "helmeted head") is a piece of membrane that can cover a newborn's head and face. Birth with a caul is rare, occurring in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births. The caul is harmless and is immediately removed by the physician or midwife upon delivery of the child.

The "en-caul" birth, not to be confused with the "caul" birth, occurs when the infant is born inside the entire amniotic sac. The sac balloons out at birth, with the amniotic fluid and child remaining inside the unbroken or partially broken membrane.

Caul (headgear)

A caul is an historical headress worn by women that covers tied-up hair. A fancy caul could be made of satin, velvet, fine silk or brocade, although a simple caul would commonly be made of white linen or cotton. The caul could be covered by a crespine or a hairnet to secure it from falling off.

During the second half of the thirteenth century, network caps, more properly called "Cauls", came into fashion for ladies' wear. These headdresses were shaped like bags, made of gold, silver or silk network. At first they fit fairly close to the head, the edge, band or rim being placed high up on the forehead, to show some hair on the temples and around the nape; they enclosed the head and hair, and were secured by a circlet or fillet. Jewels were often set at intervals in the band, also at the intersections of the cross-bars.

Caul (disambiguation)

Caul may refer to:

  • Caul, a thin, filmy membrane that covers or partly covers a newborn mammal immediately after birth
  • Caul (headgear), a historical headdress worn by women that covers tied-up hair
  • Caul fat, the membrane around food animals' internal organs
  • A curved batten, usually used in pairs for applying even pressure across wide workpieces
  • Term for greater omentum in animals

Usage examples of "caul".

Who returning nexte daie towarde Owlswyke I dyd followe aftir, and so toke them facynge me in a plaise cauled Crosbie Owtsykes where they did make shifte to kepe the phords and passages of Ethrey river very stronge.

Reman, Emme, Loes, Caul, and some of the others who help Hannah with the cupola and who are especially good at building things.

So roughly do they hold her that the caul of fabric and skin soldering shoulder to neck rips.

The eyes were covered with a caul of lacelike skin, the nose was missing and the mouth was a lipless circle of dribbling flesh.

Who returning nexte daie towarde Owlswyke I dyd followe aftir, and so toke them facynge me in a plaise cauled Crosbie Owtsykes where they did make shifte to kepe the phords and passages of Ethrey river very stronge.

But he thought the chances of both twins having cauls was something like a million to one.

In one of those books, it said that when twins were born with cauls, that was .

Yancy about the babies having cauls and about how Katherine reacted to that.

Somewhere she had picked up the fact that some people believe twins born with cauls are marked by a demon.

She told them they'd been born with cauls, and she explained what that meant.

Gul Aluf's gaze had been drawn back to the images of the birth cauls, as if for her they were magnetic.

The presents which they sent to our General, were feathers, and cauls of network.

Black cauls like the Taurus or Rho-Ophiuchi dark clouds or the Aquila Rift itself.

It took the seven of us to drag him on board, and then I cleaned and skinned him as Tom had taught me, and showed Jean how to put the caul fat and liver in rows on a skewer and wrap it in the bear’.

Canned calves brains packed in caul fat on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, hyena-print sarongs in northern Minnesota, and sophisticated digital recording equipment in Shreve-port would send the entire system wobbling on its axis.