Where does the word “batiste” come from and What does it mean?

Among the weavers of Kameric, the old Flemish name of Cambrai, was one who was able to produce upon his loom a linen fabric that was even softer and finer than that produced by any of his neighbors.

Nothing is known of this man beyond his name, Jean Baptiste. But English merchants, having already given the name “cambric” to the general products of Kameric, needed a name for the newer and finer material which they began to import in the seventeenth century.

Therefore, they decided to call it by the name of the weaver and, indifferent to French spelling, wrote it batiste.

The material was originally of linen, but the name is now often applied to sheer cotton or silk fabrics, and to thin, lightweight wool.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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