denim and corduroy

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denim and corduroy

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:10 am

This is for new vistors only. Using the Resources at your disposal tell us how these two names of popular jeans fabrics came to be. While you are about it you could look up Levi's as well.
Submitted by Melvyn Goodman (London - England)
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denim and corduroy

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:39 am

(see posting denim)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:08 am

I looked it up in the encyclopedia and learned that denim is from Nimes in France. It listed Levi Strauss as the largest clothing manufacturer and described how he and another guy (whose name escapes me) came up with the idea of putting rivets in jeans to hold the seams together.
Not chin-dropping info, but interesting enough to me I guess.
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:22 am

I found it riveting! *G*
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:05 am

You can have those jeans and denims and cord'roy that shows, but I like girls in buttons and bows.

With apologies to: Dinah Shore, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 18, 2004 10:20 am

The Oxford English Dictionary does not confirm the often repeated explanation that corduroy was the "Corde du Roy". Rather it appears to be a fabric of English origin. It was referred to as Manchester cloth in Germany and other continental countries. It was also for years a cloth worn by workers and children from low income families.

Christopher Wagner
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue May 10, 2005 6:48 am

Oxford English Dictionary:

CORDUROY: 1)A kind of coarse, thick-ribbed cotton stuff, worn chiefly by labourers or persons engaged in rough work 2) extended as a trade name to other fabrics of similar appearance. 3) corduroy trousers (colloquial)

Etymology: A name apparently of English invention: either originally intended, or soon after assumed, to represent a supposed French corde du roi ‘the king's cord’; it being a kind of ‘cord’ or corded fustian. No such name has ever been used in French: on the contrary, among a list of articles manufactured at Sens in 1807, Millin de Grandmaison Voyage d. Départ. du Midi I. 144 enumerates ‘étoffes de coton, futaines, kings-cordes’, evidently from English. Wolstenholme's Patent of 1776 mentions nearly every thing of the fustian kind except corduroy, which yet was well known by 1790. . . . A possible source has been pointed out in the English surname Corderoy.
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Morris Dictionary of Slang

CORDUROY: Of all fabrics used for clothing none—save, perhaps, denim—is so sturdy able to withstand the rough-and-tumble wear that young people give it, as ‘corduroy.’ It is truly the plebian workhorse of today’s fabrics [[today is 1988, and I get the feeling that it is not quite as popular as it once was]]—yet its name means ‘cord fit for the king’! Originally ‘corduroy’ (from the French ‘cord du roi’) was woven from silk and was used exclusively by the kings of France as part of their hunting costumes.
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Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

CORDUROY: Plebian cotton forms the basis for the ribbed cloth we know as ‘corduroy’ today, but the fabric was once woven of regal silk. The word had generally been thought to derive from the French ‘corde de Roi (‘cord of the King’), no one venturing to say which Gallic king first wore the material. But no such word has ever been used by the French, ‘velours à côtes’ being their name for corduroy. Thus it has been suggested that the fabric had its origins in England, the O.E.D. pointing out that an 1807 French list of cloths used the English words “king’s cordes.’ The surname Corderey or Corderoy is one possibility, from its manufacturer’s name, or it may be some enterprising merchant, relying upon snob appeal in advertising, christened the product ‘cord of the king,’ using the French ‘corde du Roi’ for greater distinction. The word was first used for a cloth in 1787 [[the OED says 1774, see quote below]].
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<1774 “No. 1093, Cotton CORDEROYS, cotton and linen CORDEROYS.”—“Chadwick’s Patent”>

<1787-91 “Nothing but a pair of CORDEROYS between him and the Horse's back.”—‘An Academy for Grown Horsemen’ (1809) by G. Gambado, xv. page 127>

<1795 “‘Fustian,’ The manufacture comprehends the various cotton stuffs known by the names of CORDUROY, velverett, velveteen, thicksett, etc.”—‘The Cyclopædia’ (circa 1810) by Rees [see B. 1]>

<1820 “No distant climes demand our CORDUROY, Unmatched habiliment for man and boy.”—‘Letters’ by Sydney Smith, clxxv>

<1836 “Eight-shaft cord, vulgarly called CORDUROY”—‘Cotton Manufacturing’ by Ure, II. page 332>.

<1861 “A fellow in CORDUROYS.”–‘Tom Brown at Oxford’ by Hughes (1889), xii. page 114>

<1878 “He was dressed for the most part in shabby CORDUROY.”—‘Green Pastures and Piccadilly’ by Black, x. page 84>
(Oxford English Dictionary)
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Post by haro » Tue May 10, 2005 12:05 pm

Ken, this is a funny coincidence. You know English is not my native language. Last night I saw the word 'corduroy' for the first time in my life, in a form sent to me by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and now, just a few hours later, I see this thread.

In that form the word was used in a slightly different context: "No bridges, culverts, corduroy, or other road improvements made by Permittee on said premises shall be removed unless authorized in writing by the Department Representative."
Of course that refers to building sort of a walkway laying wooden sticks on the sandy or swampy ground, which makes the surface look like corduroy.
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Post by Shelley » Tue May 10, 2005 3:32 pm

Haro, when I read your post about corduroy in the context of road improvements, I thought of the ribs that are built into the road surface at the shoulder. They make a loud buzzing noise when you drive over them, and are intended to wake you up if you start drifting off the side of the road. They are sometimes in the surface at an approach to a tollbooth -- I guess to slow you down. Your interpretation is probably right, but the other came to my mind first. I've never heard "road ribs" referred to as "corduroy" (never heard them called anything, actually), but I think it's an apt word for them.
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue May 10, 2005 3:58 pm

Shelley, what you have there is a rumble track, and I am always feared that they do do as much damage to your tyres as it sounds as though they do. My Concise Oxford describes the non-fabric version of corduroy as a US term meaning a road of tree-trunks laid across a swamp.
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denim and corduroy

Post by Phil White » Tue May 10, 2005 4:58 pm

I'd never come across this meaning. For those who share my ignorance, this from the Roadbuilding and Heavy Construction policy of the Alberta Labour Relations Board:
There are five main types of roads built:
• Soil Cement (Cement Road): This road is constructed of crushed aggregate and dry cement. It is packed with a paver. It is constructed on industrial sites and back roads. It is also the base for an asphalt overlay such as a highway.
• Corduroy: This road is usually built on a muskeg or bog. The roadbed is constructed over a support made of nylon mesh or tied logs. The road floats on this support.
• Chip or Chip on Oil: This road is constructed from crushed rock with, or without, an oil mix. It is packed down.
• Oiled: This road is constructed like a chip road but has an oil capping on it.
• Asphalt: This is the most commonly constructed road. It has a crushed rock base and an asphalt top. Construction techniques are the same for rural and urban areas. Asphalt roads for highways and residential areas take the most time to construct.
Charles Dickens also had the dubious privilege of travelling on such roads during his visit to America in 1842:
"...the corduroy road...is made by throwing trunks of trees into a marsh, and leaving them to settle there... The very slightest of the jolts with which the ponderous carriage fell from log to log was enough, it seemed, to have dislocated all the bones in the human body."
From the many hits I got, the term appears to be almost exlusively a US usage, although this method of building roads dates back to pre-Christian times in Europe (http://www.excavations.ie/Pages/Details ... ay&id=3751). I can't actually trace a British term for this construction, neither can I find a term which pre-dates the corduroy cloth, although I assume that there must have been one, neither can I find an earlier occurrence of the term than the Dickens citation above.
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denim and corduroy

Post by Shelley » Tue May 10, 2005 5:14 pm

Thanks, Bobinwales. I definitely drifted off onto the rumble track with that one! 'Scuse me, haro, for calling your call an "interpretation" that was "probably right". (I'll go back to my place with the pre-schoolers now!)
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denim and corduroy

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue May 10, 2005 5:20 pm

Hans Joerg, This originally U.S. form of CORDUROY dates back to 1780-90 and was applied to a road or causeway constructed of trunks of trees laid together transversely across a swamp or miry ground and also to bridges, etc. of the same construction. It is used as both an adjective and a verb (meaning to build a ‘corduroy road’) and, of course, derives from the resemblance to the ribbed texture of the cloth.
<1822 “From this town . . . along a rough road with many log-bridges; but some of my fellow passengers, from the state of Kentucky, called them CORDEROY.”—‘English Prairie’ by J. Woods, page 219>

<1824 “A CORDEROY Road consists of small trees, stripped of their boughs, and laid touching one another, without any covering of earth.”—‘An Excursion Through the United States and Canada’ by W. N. Blane, page 147>

<1871 “The worst part of the swamps have timber laid transversely, forming a narrow CORDUROY ROAD; or broad rough planks are laid lengthwise.”—in ‘Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London,’ ‘Journey Round the Island of Yezo’ by T. Blakiston, 12 February, Vol. 16, No. 3 page 194>

<1875 “The whole Federal army was at work . . . constructing long solid CORDUROY causeways through the marshy forests.”—“The Comte de Paris' Civil War”, II. page 9>

<1882 “There is a CORDUROY bridge over the Slangen river.”—‘Three in Norway,’ vii. page 48>

<1926 “Across the sandy neck from the first flat to the second we built a CORDUROY road of brushwood.”—‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ (1935) by T. E. Lawrence, VII. lxxxii. page 457>

<1941 “The pomp of royal pageantry seemed strangely out of keeping with shack villages and CORUDROY roads.”—‘George V’ by J. Gore, xiii. page 161>
(Oxford English Dictionary, Random House and Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionaries)
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denim and corduroy

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue May 10, 2005 6:35 pm

One of the most remarkable civil engineering feats within living memory whose achievement depended considerably on corduroy/log roads to cope with waterlogged terrain was the construction of the Alaska Highway following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Just slightly before your time, Ken!
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denim and corduroy

Post by haro » Tue May 10, 2005 8:42 pm

Shelley, thanks for your input, but the context in which that form was issued by the Department of Natural Resources makes it absolutely clear that 'corduroy' isn't referring to what Bob calls rumble tracks. I'm a board member of the South Fox Island Lighthouse Restoration Project. S. Fox is the most isolated island in Lake Michigan. The text in the form quoted above refers to that island only. There is not a single motorcar on South Fox, not even a bike, so there is absolutely no need for warning speedsters against ditching their wheelbarrows. But there are huge dunes; the island is pretty close to the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes, ya know. Walking in the sand is very exhausting, that's why there are wooden walkways between the boathouse on the beach and the light station on the hill.
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