1. a soft, slightly napped fabric of wool or wool and another fiber, used for trousers, jackets, shirts, etc.
  2. a soft, warm, light fabric of cotton or cotton and another fiber, thickly napped on one side and used for sleepwear, undergarments, sheets, etc.
  3. flannels,
    1. an outer garment, especially trousers, made of flannel.
    2. woolen undergarments.
  4. British.
    1. a washcloth.
    2. Informal.nonsense; humbug; empty talk.
    3. Informal.flattery; insincere or overdone praise.

verb (used with object), flan·neled, flan·nel·ing or (especially British), flan·nelled, flan·nel·ling.

  1. to cover or clothe with flannel.
  2. to rub with flannel.


  1. a soft light woollen fabric with a slight nap, used for clothing
  2. (plural) trousers or other garments made of flannel
  3. See cotton flannel
  4. British a small piece of cloth used to wash the face and hands; face clothUS and Canadian equivalent: washcloth
  5. British informal indirect or evasive talk; deceiving flattery

verb -nels, -nelling or -nelled or US -nels, -neling or -neled (tr)

  1. to cover or wrap with flannel
  2. to rub, clean, or polish with flannel
  3. British informal to talk evasively to; flatter in order to mislead

c.1500, probably from Welsh gwlanen “woolen cloth,” from gwlan “wool,” from Celtic *wlana, from PIE *wele- “wool.”

The Welsh origin is not a universally accepted etymology, due to the sound changes involved; some (Barnhart, Gamillscheg) suggest the English word is from an Anglo-French diminutive of Old French flaine “a kind of coarse wool.” “As flannel was already in the 16th c. a well-known production of Wales, a Welsh origin for the word seems antecedently likely” [OED]. Modern French flanelle is a 17c. borrowing from English.

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