Definition of flannel in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈflanl/


1A kind of soft-woven fabric, typically made of wool or cotton and slightly milled and raised: [as modifier]: my longest, thickest flannel nightgown
More example sentences
  • ‘You're probably not going to sell much heavy wool or heavy flannel fabric in south Texas,’ he said.
  • Many parents prefer the cotton or flannel fabric because they are less expensive than silk sheets and are easier to clean.
  • Consider earth tones of all kinds, and different kinds of fabrics like cotton flannel, faux leather, warm chenille, and luxurious velvet.
1.1 (flannels) Men’s trousers made of flannel.
Example sentences
  • So go crazy this fall because flannels, corduroys and tweeds are making a huge comeback.
  • It's tonnes of fun, dancing and drinking cheap beer to frenzied mandolin picking while one of the vets oversees, clad in grey flannels, blazer, beret, and a strip of medals.
  • Worn with a shirt in solid or pastel, or light stripes or checks and a subdued tie, this can go with flat front trousers or flannels.
1.2 short for flannelette.
2British A washcloth.
Example sentences
  • As members arrived at our March meeting a generous collection of soap, toothbrushes, flannels, sponges, washing powder etc., gradually piled up.
  • You automatically look for the cheapest items - but then feel a tinge of embarrassment because you don't want to be seen as ‘the ones who bought the tea towels’, the flannels, or a single pillow case.
  • Do not share towels or flannels until the infection has cleared.
3British informal Bland fluent talk indulged in to avoid addressing a difficult subject or situation directly: a simple admittance of ignorance was much to be preferred to any amount of flannel


Middle English: probably from Welsh gwlanen 'woolen article', from gwlân 'wool'.

  • Ever since the Middle Ages we have worn flannel, which probably comes from Welsh, from the word gwlân ‘wool’. In 1920s the sense of ‘bland, vague talk used to avoid a difficult subject’ developed from the central idea of a soft, warm fabric—it seems to have started as military slang. See also corgi, oaf

Words that rhyme with flannel

annal, channel, impanel, multichannel, panel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: flan·nel

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.