Monday, December 31, 2012

Dimity

From Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas. This is one of Mr Edwards' lines.

I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash and merino, tussore, cretonne, crépon, muslin, poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of the world. I have come to take you away to my Emporium on the hill, where the change hums on wires. Throw away your little bedsocks and your Welsh wool knitted jacket, I will warm the sheets like an electric toaster, I will lie by your side like the Sunday roast.

Does anyone -- man, woman, vegetable, or Other -- profess their love so ardently any more?

The OED's etymology tells: "In 15–16th cent. demytdimite, < Italian dimito ‘a kind of coarse cotton or flanell’ (Florio 1598), ‘a kind of course linzie-wolzie’ (Florio 1611) = medieval Latin dimitum (12th cent. in Du Cange), < Greek δίμιτος of double thread, n. dimity, < δι-δίς twice + μίτος thread of the warp. It is not certain how the final -y arose: could it represent Italian plural dimiti? Compare the plural in Du Cange's quot.: ‘amita, dimitaque, et trimita’, explained to mean fabrics woven with one, two, or three threads respectively. The relation to these of the Persian word dimyāṭī, explained as ‘a kind of cotton cloth, dimity’, which has the form of a derivative of Dimyāṭ, Damietta, is not clear."

Mr. Thomas was right to include dimity in Mr Edwards' list, seeing as it is a double thread.

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