Sunday, 29 June 2014

Corduroy - The Cloth of Kings

A close-up of corduroy
Corduroy is all its kingly glory
(photo by Javier Valasquez Murial)


Noun & adjective. Late 18th century.
[from CORD + DUROY.]

A1 noun. A coarse cotton velvet with thick ribbing. L18

A2 noun. In plural. Corduroy trousers. colloquial. L18

A3 noun. A road made of logs laid together transversely;
ground made up into such a road. M19

B1 adj. Made of corduroy. L18

B2 adj. Having ridges and furrows like corduroy;
specifically (of a road, etc) made of logs laid together transversely. L18

I love corduroy; I love its softness, I love its durability, I love its style. In my late teens, I spent so much time in corduroy that I perennially looked like a supply teacher. Once at a party, some oik told me I just needed a shotgun over one arm and a dead pheasant over the other to complete the look. It was meant as an insult, but I took it as a huge compliment. And don't even get me started on the allure of a woman in corduroy ...

It's commonly said that the word corduroy comes from the French corde du roi, literally meaning 'the cloth of kings'. As kingly as corduroy is, this isn't true; it simply comes from cord and duroy, which is a coarse woollen cloth used in menswear in the 18th century. Still, should I by some fluke of lineage ever be crowned king, I will personally make it my business to make sure that corduroy does officially become The Cloth of Kings. I'll do some other stuff, too, of course, but that's gonna be right up there.

And in my adulation of corduroy, I'm in good company. The 11th November, for example, is Corduroy Appreciation Day, that date so chosen because written 11/11 it rather resembles corduroy itself. They even have parties in which attendees (who must be wearing at least two corduroy items) discuss wale width and their shared mistrust of velvet. Does that not just sound wonderful? I bet they're the types that read dictionaries too. I love them.

A girl in a corduroy jacket
A corduroy jacket
(Fox Cartel)
Do you wear corduroy?

Do you like corduroy?

Do please cordon off your most royal comments in the box below.


  1. Witty and lovable is the sense of humor in your writing style Ed.
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  2. Hmmm...the Eleventh of November...witty, yes, but not the best date in the year for looking as if you should be carrying a shotgun. Or, indeed, for celebrating anything. I can't claim much authority here as my burgundy flares have long since disintegrated, but perhaps the Eleventh of January might prove to be more convivial a date.

    1. I hadn't really thought about the date, Sally. I was too blinded by the undulating waves of mesmerising corduroy! I *really* want to get to one of those parties. There'll be a Lexicolatry t-shirt to anyone that can get me a ticket!

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