Definition of selvage in US English:


(also selvedge)


  • 1An edge produced on woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unravelling.

    • ‘To hold warp threads closely, weave three rows with a single thread and darn ends along the selvedge.’
    • ‘An act in effect between 1774 and 1811 required that blue threads be woven into the selvages of cotton cloth intended for export if a refund of the tax on printed cotton was to be claimed.’
    • ‘In other cases, a laser was used to create decorative motifs on fabrics, or to cut fabric fringes along the selvage.’
    • ‘Create a straight fray line for your fringe by clipping through the selvage on one side of the fabric, then gently pulling a crosswise thread across the fabric width.’
    • ‘For the neatest finish, cut strips along the selvage using the selvage for the seam allowance.’
  • 2Geology
    A zone of altered rock, especially volcanic glass, at the edge of a rock mass.

    • ‘This type of migmatite is characterized by discrete millimetre - to centimetre-scale discontinuous granitic layers separated by high-grade metamorphic host rock and dark selvages (mesosome).’
    • ‘All other quartz veins are associated with at least some tourmaline, either within the veins or in the vein selvages.’
    • ‘In the vein's central vug, ferroaxinite overlies a selvage (fault gouge) of quartz, orthoclase, and microcline feldspar and is followed by fine-grained calcite.’
    • ‘The fine-grained selvage called a chilled margin, formed in a younger rock in contact with an older rock, has already been mentioned.’
    • ‘Likely all of these factors played some role in initiating beryl precipitation, particularly where mineralization is contained within highly altered vein selvages.’


Late Middle English: from an alteration of self + edge, on the pattern of early modern Dutch selfegghe. The geological term dates from the 1930s.