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Origin uncertain. Attested since about 1695 in the spelling bore-lap, borelapp.[1] Likely from burel (a coarse woollen cloth) +‎ lap (flap of a garment), where the first element is from Middle English burel, borel.[1][2][3] Others feel that "its character and time of appearance makes a Dutch origin very likely" (and the earliest references as to its importation from the Netherlands);[4] the NED suggests derivation from Dutch boenlap (coarse, rubbing linen or cloth) with the first element perhaps confused with boer;[1][5] Bense instead suggests derivation from an unattested Dutch *boerenlap, where *boeren supposedly has an extended sense of "coarse" as in Dutch boerenkost (coarse, heavy food as is eaten by farmers) and boerengoed (from Dutch boer (farmer, peasant); compare English boor), though this word is not attested.[6]



burlap (countable and uncountable, plural burlaps)

  1. (US) A very strong, coarse cloth, made from jute, flax, or hemp, and used to make sacks etc.



See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Karl Rohling, Englische Volksetymologie (1931)
  2. ^ burlap in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  3. ^ burlap” in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.
  4. ^ Skrifter i Rekken Spräklige Avhandlinger 1-3 (1943), page 106
  5. ^ A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles
  6. ^ Evan Clifford Llewellyn, The Influence of Low Dutch on the English Vocabulary (1936), page 49: Burlap (1695), originally perhaps a sort of holland, now a coarse canvas made of jute or hemp and used for bagging; Bense suggests that it is from an unrecorded Du. *boerenlap, in which boeren is meant to express the same notion that it has in boerenkost, 'coarse fare'; boeren in this sense is often used in Holland to express coarseness in appearance, manners, language, &c.; [and] lap, a piece of cloth, clout, so *boerenlap, a coarse piece of cloth, hence coarse cloth, and this would suit the form as well as the sense."