[mad-ruh s, muh-dras, -drahs]


a light cotton fabric of various weaves, especially one in multicolored plaid or stripes, used for shirts, dresses, jackets, etc.
a thin curtain fabric of a light, gauzelike weave with figures of heavier yarns.
a large, brightly colored kerchief, of silk or cotton, often used for turbans.


made of or resembling madras.

Origin of madras

First recorded in 1825–35; named after Madras


[muh-dras, -drahs]


former name of Chennai
former name of Tamil Nadu. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for madras

Contemporary Examples of madras

Historical Examples of madras

British Dictionary definitions for madras



  1. a strong fine cotton or silk fabric, usually with a woven stripe
  2. (as modifier)madras cotton
something made of this, esp a scarf
a medium-hot currychicken madras

Word Origin for madras

C19: by association with the Madras area



the former official name of Chennai
the former name (until 1968) for the state of Tamil Nadu
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 madras

1833, in reference to the former Indian state of Madras (modern Chennai, a Tamil name), from which this type of bright-colored muslin cloth was exported. The British fort there dates from 1639; the name sometimes is said to be from Sanskrit mandra, a god of the underworld, but perhaps rather from Arabic madrasa "school" or Portuguese Madre (de Deus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper