One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The process of treating cotton yarn or fabric (often under tension) with a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide or other base, in order to impart strength and lustre and to increase affinity for dyes.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Athenaeum. From the name of John Mercer, English calico-printer and chemist, who discovered the process in 1844 + -ization.
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