noun, plural ter·ries.

the loop formed by the pile of a fabric when left uncut.
Also called terry cloth. a pile fabric, usually of cotton, with loops on both sides, as in a Turkish towel.


made of such a fabric: a terry bathrobe.
having the pile loops uncut: terry velvet.

Origin of terry

First recorded in 1775–85; perhaps variant of terret
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for terry-cloth

Historical Examples of terry-cloth

  • He got out of the cooling tub and grabbed for a terry-cloth robe.

    Occasion for Disaster

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • People in light blue jeans, bronzed youths in skipper caps, deep-tanned girls in terry-cloth.

    The Sword

    Frank Quattrocchi

British Dictionary definitions for terry-cloth


noun plural -ries

an uncut loop in the pile of towelling or a similar fabric
  1. a fabric with such a pile on both sides
  2. (as modifier)a terry towel

Word Origin for terry

C18: perhaps variant of terret



Dame Ellen. 1847–1928, British actress, noted for her Shakespearean roles opposite Sir Henry Irving and for her correspondence with George Bernard Shaw
(John) Quinlan (ˈkwɪnlən). born 1937, British architect, noted for his works in neoclassical style, such as the Richmond riverside project (1984)
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 terry-cloth



"loop raised in pile-weaving, left uncut," 1784, possibly an alteration of French tiré "drawn," from past participle of tirer "draw out" (cf. German gezogener Sammet "drawn velvet").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper