a velvety cord or yarn of silk or worsted, for embroidery, fringes, etc.
fabric made with a fringed silken thread used as the weft in combination with wool or cotton.
any fabric with a protruding pile, as in certain rayon bedspreads.
a deep-pile, durable, woolen carpeting with chenille weft: the most expensive power-loomed floor covering.

Origin of chenille

1730–40; < French: velvety cord, literally, caterpillar < Latin canīcula, with etymological sense “little dog,” though attested only in senses “shrewish woman, dogfish, Sirius” (see canicular); for parallel use of “cat” in same sense, see caterpillar Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chenille

Historical Examples of chenille

  • The chenille must pass through the material freely, so as not to draw it.

  • A not very promising substance to embroider with is chenille.

    Art in Needlework

    Lewis F. Day

  • The boy added that the chenille was so ugly that it was without doubt German and no good.

    The A.E.F.

    Heywood Broun

  • Portières may be made of cloth, of knotted cords, or chenille.

    Primary Handwork

    Ella Victoria Dobbs

  • She held up a string of chenille monkeys, and danced them up and down.

    Hildegarde's Harvest

    Laura E. Richards

British Dictionary definitions for chenille



a thick soft tufty silk or worsted velvet cord or yarn used in embroidery and for trimmings, etc
a fabric of such yarn
a rich and hard-wearing carpet of such fabric

Word Origin for chenille

C18: from French, literally: hairy caterpillar, from Latin canicula, diminutive of canis dog
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

Word Origin and History for chenille

"velvety cord," 1738, from French chenille, properly "caterpillar," literally "little dog" (13c.), from Latin canicula "a dog" (also "a violent woman; the star Sirius; the worst throw in dice"), diminutive of canis "dog" (see canine (n.)). So called for its furry look. Cf. caterpillar.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper