July 19, 2013
tabby (noun)
\TAB-ee\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a domestic cat with a gray or brown coat striped and spotted with black2 : a female cat
How do you use it?
Even though they already had three cats, Alex brought home the stray tabby he found on the street.
Are you a word wiz?

"Tabby" looks simple enough, but it's actually very exotic in origin. What language do you think gave us "tabby"?

Arabic gave us "tabby." A silk cloth with a striped pattern was once made in a part of the city of Baghdad in what is now Iraq. The Arabic name for the cloth was "‘attabi," which comes from "Al-‘Attabiya," the name of the part of the city where it was made. "‘Attabi" was borrowed into Latin and from there into French, but along the way it was respelled "tabis." "Tabis" became "tabby" when it was adopted into English. People saw a resemblance between the pattern on the cloth and the striped or spotted markings of some cats, so those animals came to be called "tabby" cats.
Archive RSS Feed