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[per-keyl] /pərˈkeɪl/
a closely woven, smooth-finished, plain or printed cotton cloth, used for bed sheets, clothing, etc.
Origin of percale
1615-25; < French < Persian pargāla rag; replacing percalla < Persian Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for percale
Historical Examples
  • Myra smoothed her hair and put on a fresh afternoon percale.

  • Bloomers can also be made from gingham, percale, galatea, or other cotton cloth.

    Clothing and Health Helen Kinne
  • Two dressing-gowns, one in percale, the other in striped silk, six roubles.

    Marie Alexander Pushkin
  • Fold the percale through the center, with the woof, and baste the edges together.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • She wore a percale gown, ecru ground with bright figures, a rose-colored cravat and a bonnet laden with flowers.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • percale that could be bought for ten cents a yard on the avenue, sold on the square for fifteen cents.

    The Co-Citizens Corra Harris
  • Measure the bedstead and cut two pieces of percale or zephyr exactly the same size.

  • percale is a closely woven fabric made with a good quality of cotton yarn.


    William H. Dooley
  • She would buy so and so many yards of percale for new shirt waists for the boys and Janie and Mag.

  • Did you ever have a calico apron or dress of percale or cambric on which the pattern showed on one side only?

    Clothing and Health Helen Kinne
British Dictionary definitions for percale


/pəˈkeɪl; -ˈkɑːl/
a close-textured woven cotton fabric, plain or printed, used esp for sheets
Word Origin
C17: via French from Persian pargālah piece of cloth
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 percale

1620s, name of a fabric imported from the East; in modern use, 1840, from French percale, perhaps ultimately from Persian pargalah "a rag."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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