Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Indian Word in English: Calico

The English word CALICO is a corrupted pronunciation of the name of the city of "Calicut" (compare Arabic Qaliqut, Malayalam Kolikodu) on the Malabar coast of India in Kerala; the modern name of the city is Kozhikode. The fabric was known by this name in English already in the early 16th century, referring to a coarse fabric made from unbleached cotton imported from India. This raw textile was then dyed with bright hues. These colorful calico prints later gave rise to the metaphorical application of the term "calico" to refer animals with varicolored coats (calico horses, calico cats, etc.), a usage that dates to the early 19th century.

You can read more about calico fabric at Wikipedia, and you can also read about calico cats.

The image below shows a classical calico print fabric (image by Pattie Hite at Flickr):

And here is a calico cat (image by Michael Frank Franz at Flickr):

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