One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In early use (frequently in form ratteen): a kind of coarse twilled woollen fabric, usually with a (curled) nap; a frieze or drugget. Later: (usually in form ratine or ratiné) a plain-woven fabric made of cotton or other material with a loose open weave and rough surface, principally used for hard-wearing outer clothing, furniture covers, etc.
Mid 17th century. From French ratine, of uncertain origin; perhaps from Middle French rater to scrape + -ine. With some forms compare -een. In some forms probably after French ratiné, past participle of ratiner to give (a fabric) a similar (rough, bobbly) effect to that of ratine.
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