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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for percale

Historical Examples of percale

  • Myra smoothed her hair and put on a fresh afternoon percale.

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

  • Two dressing-gowns, one in percale, the other in striped silk, six roubles.


    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.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for percale



a close-textured woven cotton fabric, plain or printed, used esp for sheets

Word Origin for percale

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

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