Word of the Day



a thick cover made of wool or another material that you use to keep warm in bed

Origin and usage

The Middle English word blanket derived from the Old Northern French word ‘blanc’, meaning white. This is because blankets were originally made from undyed woollen cloth and would have been completely white. The word blanket now refers to a bed covering made of any colour and material.


Arguably, one of the best-known examples of a blanket is the colourful woven woollen variety made by the Navajo, as they were thought to be the best textile producers all of the Native American groups. Once a semi-nomadic tribe, the Navajo settled in the southwestern part of what later became the United States at some point around the 10th century, and over the next 600 years they developed stable agricultural communities. These communities developed a unique technique of weaving, and the introduction of sheep by European settlers quickly helped to revolutionize the art of blanket making.

The introduction of geometric shapes beyond the striped patterns favoured by the Hopi is credited to the Navajo, who wove patterns such as diamonds, lozenges and zigzags. These techniques further developed in the early 19th century when settlers from Spain arrived with red ‘bayeta’ cloth. This material was unravelled and then repurposed in Navajo textile products, including blankets, which previously had only featured natural wool colours. The later development of commonly used dyes and the following rise in popularity of coloured wool eventually led to more brightly designed patterns in a range of motifs.


“Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.”

(Margaret Atwood)

“Music is like my security blanket.”

(Yoko Ono)


afghan, bedding, duvet, cover

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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