One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounmass nounalso noils
Short strands and knots combed out of wool fibre before spinning.
- ‘The short wool or noil, which is removed from the long fiber, is left in the small circles and from there removed by noil knives, falling as waste under the comb.’
- ‘The shortwool noils are generally used in producing plain and fancy woolens or soft fabrics.’
- ‘These bits of wool, second cuts, or noils must be carded out or they make slubs in the finished yarn.’
Early 17th century: probably from Old French noel, from medieval Latin nodellus, diminutive of Latin nodus ‘knot’.
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