Definition of flannel in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A kind of soft woven fabric, typically made of wool or cotton and slightly milled and raised.

    [as modifier] ‘a check flannel shirt’
    • ‘At night she wears lace and nylon bedclothes while the other girls wear flannel and cotton nightgowns.’
    • ‘Opt for a simple wool (just make sure it's not itchy), cotton or flannel blanket, with or without prints.’
    • ‘A set of matching cotton, flannel, or silk pants and shirts are good selections.’
    • ‘If you don't yet have a turtleneck, wool flannel pants, dark jeans, and the hottest trend of the season, what are you waiting for?’
    • ‘Many parents prefer the cotton or flannel fabric because they are less expensive than silk sheets and are easier to clean.’
    • ‘Stay away from wearing your khaki chinos during the winter months; you're better off with wool or flannel pants.’
    • ‘These couldn't be better matched with jeans, chinos, and even wool flannel pants.’
    • ‘And he did look good, in a pair of dark jeans and a soft green flannel shirt that brought out the green in his hazel eyes.’
    • ‘Fabrics that will keep you warm for the season include: tweed, denim, wool flannel, knits, and crepe.’
    • ‘I am rather fond of the indigent look, myself, and am the proud owner of a modest collection of plaid flannel shirts.’
    • ‘Today, he still favors the plaid flannel shirts of a woodsman.’
    • ‘From the drawers she pulled a soft flannel nightgown, with short, round, puffy sleeves and lace at the collars and hem.’
    • ‘Soft cotton flannel is comfortable and long-lasting.’
    • ‘The bedclothes fell away to reveal a soft, flannel nightgown, and she wondered hastily where her evening gown was.’
    • ‘‘You're probably not going to sell much heavy wool or heavy flannel fabric in south Texas,’ he said.’
    • ‘The same goes for pants; take advantage of winter fabrics like wool flannel to take winter to a new high and make the best of the colder weather.’
    • ‘Consider earth tones of all kinds, and different kinds of fabrics like cotton flannel, faux leather, warm chenille, and luxurious velvet.’
    • ‘I suggest using cotton flannel, fleece, or another thick fabric.’
    • ‘Cotton flannel or jersey sheets are another healthy option because they're not treated with chemicals.’
    • ‘Two hours and fifteen minutes into the game, upon the expiration of his seventh turn, Ted removed his glasses to wipe them slowly with the worn cotton of his flannel shirt.’
    1. 1.1Men's trousers made of flannel.
      ‘he was dressed in a tweed jacket and grey flannels’
      • ‘Merely introducing colour would have been radical in a world populated by men who wore grey flannels and blazers.’
      • ‘It's tonnes of fun, dancing and drinking cheap beer to frenzied mandolin picking while one of the vets oversees, clad in grey flannels, blazer, beret, and a strip of medals.’
      • ‘Yesterday morning, young boys wearing school uniforms of grey flannels and white shirts snatched handbags off a number of women on their way to the day hospital.’
      • ‘Thirty years earlier, as a small boy in unflattering grey flannels, I stood and craned my neck to gawp at a model of the largest creature on earth, suspended from the ceiling of London's Natural History Museum.’
      • ‘Multicolored and solid flannels, cottons and jerseys from pajamas, socks, old shirts, skirts and so forth were collected in each homeroom.’
      • ‘Of course the flannels have been replaced by more casual wear but this colonial legacy, cricket, like the English language, is here to stay.’
      • ‘You ought to see the photographs of me in my National Health spectacles, Harris Tweed jacket and grey flannels.’
      • ‘For youngsters gathered in white flannels, it was a great opportunity to see their latest batting hero at close quarters.’
      • ‘Around the harbour wall, foppish types in flannels and boaters sat with their lady companions on picnic rugs, applauding gently.’
      • ‘It seems that he was never tortured by his homosexuality, and he had a curious fetish for grey flannels and corduroys.’
      • ‘He wore pale flannels, a blue T-shirt with a button-up neck (quite similar to the one I was wearing) and a pair of flashy sunglasses.’
      • ‘Worn with a shirt in solid or pastel, or light stripes or checks and a subdued tie, this can go with flat front trousers or flannels.’
      • ‘N.W.D. Yardley, captain of Yorkshire and England, played in flannels so cream that they were almost khaki.’
      • ‘‘We were tweed jackets, grey flannels and shirt and tie chaps, but we were treated as violent revolutionaries,’ he said.’
      • ‘‘At that Lord's Test in 1950 we were told to change into our clean flannels as we were to be presented to the King,’ he said.’
      • ‘They can be seen serving the guests dressed in white flannels, the same as cricketers wear.’
      • ‘So go crazy this fall because flannels, corduroys and tweeds are making a huge comeback.’
      • ‘British tennis has taken half a century to recover from men discarding their flannels and flashing a bit of leg.’
      • ‘However, on the other hand most people will know that dress sense demands: With grey flannels and blazer one wears black shoes and not brown.’
      • ‘I was wearing gray flannels, a blue blazer, white shirt and a red-and-yellow-striped bow tie that, yes, I tie myself.’
    2. 1.2
      short for flannelette
  • 2British A small piece of towelling used for washing oneself.

    • ‘Do not share towels or flannels until the infection has cleared.’
    • ‘As members arrived at our March meeting a generous collection of soap, toothbrushes, flannels, sponges, washing powder etc., gradually piled up.’
    • ‘Strict hygiene is very important - sufferers should not share towels or flannels, and should wash hands frequently.’
    • ‘The ice-cold flannels and water that were there to greet us were very much appreciated.’
    • ‘Do not share towels or flannels with a person who has conjunctivitis.’
    • ‘You automatically look for the cheapest items - but then feel a tinge of embarrassment because you don't want to be seen as ‘the ones who bought the tea towels’, the flannels, or a single pillow case.’
    • ‘The first lot missed my ear entirely and dripped down my neck, necessitating a rapid dash to the bathroom for a flannel and towel.’
    • ‘Among the items most appreciated are cuddly toys, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, flannels, notepads, colouring books, pencils, pens, crayons, hats, caps, gloves and scarves.’
    • ‘The boxes also contain everyday items taken for granted in much of the world, things like toothpaste, toothbrush, flannels, soap, gloves and scarves.’
    • ‘She wrapped the flannel around it, continuing to rip off long shreds.’
    • ‘I could hear my little one screaming and then heard Ryan telling him to calm down and get mummy some flannels.’
    • ‘We tried to stop the bleeding with flannels and I tried to give him mouth to mouth as he was dying but I didn't know what I was doing.’
    • ‘She fussed over me with hot drinks and cold flannels.’
    facecloth, cloth
    View synonyms
  • 3British informal [mass noun] Bland fluent talk indulged in to avoid addressing a difficult subject or situation directly.

    ‘a simple admittance of ignorance was much to be preferred to any amount of flannel’
    smooth talk, flattery, blarney, blandishments, honeyed words
    View synonyms


[NO OBJECT]British
  • Use bland fluent talk to avoid addressing a difficult subject or situation directly.

    • ‘If he expects people ultimately to respect his judgment, he had better stop trying to flannel at every opportunity.’
    • ‘Milroy struggled a little with the time-honoured art of flannelling on live-to-camera while nothing much was happening: ‘Julian?’’
    • ‘Whilst my skills at flannelling are world famous, even I can get a bit flustered sometimes.’
    • ‘You're listening to Radio National and Background Briefing, where we're attempting to tease out the truth from the fiction, the snow from the grit, the flannelling from the facts in politics.’
    • ‘He apologised for the situation and then flannelled on about ramping up production, being victims of their own success, and how they could manage the problem.’
    • ‘Susan Kramer, Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park, said: ‘Residents are fed up with flannelling.’’
    • ‘She tried to flannel her way out of it, but it just seemed worse.’
    • ‘But we are also keen to get an accurate timing and if I flanneled or forgot stuff this was going to make this very difficult.’
    • ‘His interrogators could see that voting reform for councils is going to be necessary to keep his coalition together, but on such an important matter, he flannelled, failing to find a clear position.’
    • ‘Really I'm not saying this to flatter or flannel - this is absolutely unique.’
    use flattery, talk blarney, flatter, pull the wool over someone's eyes
    prevaricate, hedge, equivocate, be evasive, vacillate, blather, dodge the issue, evade the issue, stall
    hum and haw
    waffle, shilly-shally, soft-soap, sweet-talk, butter someone up, pussyfoot around
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Middle English: probably from Welsh gwlanen woollen article, from gwlân wool.