Origin uncertain. Attested since about 1695 in the spelling bore-lap, borelapp. Likely from burel (“a coarse woollen cloth”) + lap (“flap of a garment”), where the first element is from Middle English burel, borel. 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); the NED suggests derivation from Dutch boenlap (“coarse, rubbing linen or cloth”) with the first element perhaps confused with boer; 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.
- (UK) hessian
- Karl Rohling, Englische Volksetymologie (1931)
- ^ burlap in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- ^ “burlap” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
- ^ Skrifter i Rekken Spräklige Avhandlinger 1-3 (1943), page 106
- ^ A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles
- ^ 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."