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[lin-uh n] /ˈlɪn ən/
fabric woven from flax yarns.
Often, linens. bedding, tablecloths, shirts, etc., made of linen cloth or a more common substitute, as cotton.
yarn made of flax fiber.
thread made of flax yarns.
made of linen:
a linen jacket.
wash one's dirty linen in public, to discuss in public one's private scandals, disagreements, or difficulties.
Origin of linen
before 900; Middle English lin(n)en (noun, adj.), Old English linnen, līnen (adj.) made of flax, equivalent to līn flax (< Latin līnum; see line2) + -en -en2
Related forms
lineny, adjective
half-linen, adjective
underlinen, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for underlinen
Historical Examples
  • It was full of a jumble of newspapers, books, old clothes and underlinen, in bundles.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • Now it seems to me that we could not do better than make her a set of underlinen.

  • No one seemed to possess a nightgown; all slept in their underlinen.

  • To every man new clothes and underlinen were issued; and we all had to have a bath!

  • The gombeenwoman Eliza Tudor had underlinen enough to vie with her of Sheba.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • Therefore I advise that all underlinen should be of the strongest material, and fineness a secondary consideration.

    How to Travel Thomas W. Knox
  • He looked at his frayed cuffs, he was aware of his buttonless shirt, and he did not like to think of the children's underlinen.

    Yonder Emily Hilda Young
  • One girl who had been in before grumbled that her bed had been slept in, and was dirty; but her own underlinen was far from clean.

  • My friend was allowed to wear some of her underlinen, as she had been very cold the previous night.

  • Meanwhile, I am mending your underlinen and my own, and watching the clouds sail above my narrow horizon.

British Dictionary definitions for underlinen


underclothes, esp when made of linen


  1. a hard-wearing fabric woven from the spun fibres of flax
  2. (as modifier): a linen tablecloth
yarn or thread spun from flax fibre
clothes, sheets, tablecloths, etc, made from linen cloth or from a substitute such as cotton
Word Origin
Old English linnen, ultimately from Latin līnum flax, line²
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 underlinen



"cloth from woven flax," early 14c.; earlier as an adjective, "made of flax" (c.1200), from Old English linin (adj.) "made of flax," from lin "flax, linen thread, cloth," from West Germanic *linam (cf. Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old High German lin "flax, linen," German Leinen "linen," Gothic lein "linen cloth"), probably an early borrowing from Latin linum "flax, linen," which, along with Greek linon is from a non-IE language.

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


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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Idioms and Phrases with underlinen
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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