One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Soak (flax or hemp) in water to soften it.‘the flax has been retted and used as linen to produce the fabric’
dampen, damp, moisten, humidifyView synonyms
- ‘Flax was grown in the country districts, ‘retted’ and ‘heckled’ in small ponds and mills, spun and woven in the single-storey ‘improved’ cottages of the villages.’
- ‘Under old methods, hemp was cut and allowed to lie in the fields for weeks until it retted enough so the fiber could be pulled off by hand.’
Late Middle English: related to Dutch reten, also to rot.
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