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[kal-i-koh] /ˈkæl ɪˌkoʊ/
noun, plural calicoes, calicos.
a plain-woven cotton cloth printed with a figured pattern, usually on one side.
British. plain white cotton cloth.
an animal having a spotted or particolored coat.
Obsolete. a figured cotton cloth from India.
made of calico.
resembling printed calico; spotted or mottled.
Origin of calico
1495-1505; short for Calico cloth, variant of Calicut cloth, named after city in India which orig. exported it Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for calico
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She untied the bit of calico string with fingers that shook from excitement.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • She put one trembling hand to the calico apron about her head.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • Such is said to have been the origin of roller printing on calico.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • He led the way to the settee by the calico and dress goods counter.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • She wore a calico apron and had not found time to do her hair since morning.

    The Wall Street Girl Frederick Orin Bartlett
  • The Calicut of fame which gave rise to the name calico is also in this district.

    The Story of the Cotton Plant Frederick Wilkinson
  • Again he chuckled, half forcing Salomon into the calico dress.

    The New Land

    Elma Ehrlich Levinger
  • One bit of paper may then be lifted off the calico, and the thread will carry the other bit.

    On Laboratory Arts Richard Threlfall
British Dictionary definitions for calico


noun (pl) -coes, -cos
a white or unbleached cotton fabric with no printed design
(mainly US) a coarse printed cotton fabric
(modifier) made of calico
Word Origin
C16: based on Calicut, town in India
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for calico

1530s, kalyko, corruption of Calicut (modern Kozhikode), seaport on Malabar coast of India, where Europeans first obtained it. In 16c. it was second only to Goa among Indian commercial ports for European trade. Extended to animal colorings suggestive of printed calicos in 1807, originally of horses.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for calico


Related Terms

piece of calico

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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