Definition of calico in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkaləˌkō/

noun (plural calicoes or calicos)

1North American Printed cotton fabric: [as modifier]: a calico dress
More example sentences
  • Your materials are simple - muslin cut into 8-1/2 ‘squares to create the base window frames, and a variety of prints, calicos, or other fabrics to use for the windows.’
  • ‘India and English chintz in patterns’ was advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette on February 19, 1757, and ‘printed cottons, calicoes, copper plate chintz’ were offered by Isaac and Joseph Paschall in 1762.
  • Fabrics varied, and included calendared or glazed fabrics of wool, plain or floral printed calicos and muslins, and glazed chintz monochrome or polychrome prints.
1.1British A type of cotton cloth, typically plain white or unbleached.
Example sentences
  • Apart from belts worn under the clothing, our informants also spoke of a special belt for the upper clothing of the dead which, like the rest of the garments, was tom and never cut with scissors, from a piece of white calico.
  • The group of 15 five to 11-year-olds tried their hands at making drawstring bags using unbleached calico.
  • A pillow is regarded as obligatory and may be made, like the death-clothes, from white calico.


North American
(Of an animal, typically a cat) multicolored or mottled.
Example sentences
  • If you abuse a circus elephant, if you run a pet shop that sells a calico cat without a license or if you're a farmer who markets a potato that's too small, the US Department of Agriculture can fine you.
  • A block away from the statue, a calico cat casually crosses the street right in front of me, unperturbed by traffic.
  • No calico cat should ever, EVER be permitted in the vicinity of the Business Unit.


Mid 16th century (originally also calicut): alteration of Calicut, where the fabric originated.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cal·i·co

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