Definition of flannel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈflan(ə)l/


1 [mass noun] A kind of soft woven fabric, typically made of wool or cotton and slightly milled and raised: [as modifier]: a check flannel shirt
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: he was dressed in a tweed jacket and grey flannels
More 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 small piece of towelling used for washing oneself.
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.
facecloth, cloth;
North American  washcloth, washrag;
Australian  washer
3 [mass noun] British 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
prevarication, hedging, equivocation, evasion, double-talk, doublespeak;
nonsense, rubbish
informal spiel, soft soap, sweet talk, buttering up, weasel words, baloney, rot, waffle, hot air, poppycock, tripe, bosh, bunk
Irish informal codology
Australian/New Zealand informal guyver, smoodging

verb (flannels, flannelling, flannelled)

[no object] (often as noun flannelling) British informal
Use bland fluent talk to avoid addressing a difficult subject or situation directly.
Example sentences
  • Susan Kramer, Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate for Richmond Park, said: ‘Residents are fed up with flannelling.’
  • He apologised for the situation and then flannelled on about ramping up production, being victims of their own success, and how they could manage the problem.
  • Really I'm not saying this to flatter or flannel - this is absolutely unique.
use flattery, talk blarney, flatter, pull the wool over someone's eyes;
prevaricate, hedge, equivocate, be evasive, vacillate, blather, evade/dodge the issue, stall;
British  hum and haw
informal waffle, shilly-shally, soft-soap, sweet-talk, butter someone up, pussyfoot around
North American informal fast-talk


Middle English: probably from Welsh gwlanen 'woollen 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

Line breaks: flan|nel

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