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From Middle English helde, from Old English hefeld, from the root of Proto-Germanic *habjaną (to have, heave), from Proto-Indo-European *keh₂p-. Cognate with Old Saxon hevild, Middle Low German hevelte, Icelandic hafald.


heddle (plural heddles)

  1. A component in a loom, being one of a number of similar components, through the eye of each of which a distinct strand of the warp is threaded.
    • 1808, John Duncan, Practical and Descriptive Essays on the Art of Weaving[1], volume 1, page 72:
      The only other table, generally used by operative weavers, is that for setting the heddles, so as to correspond with the reed. Few weavers are in possession of a sufficient variety of heddles, to suit every reed in which they may be employed to weave cloth.
    • 1948 January, Make Weaving Your Hobby, Popular Mechanics, Volume 89, Number 1, page 190,
      The heddles and heddle frames, Fig. 3, and the reed may be purchased from dealers in craftwork supplies.
    • 1980, US Department of the Army, Craft Techniques in Occupational Therapy[2], page 7-22:
      If errors have occurred in threading the heddles, it is usually expedient to remove all threads from the begining[sic] of the error and re-thread them correctly.
  2. One of the sets of parallel doubled threads which, with mounting, compose the harness employed to guide the warp threads to the lathe or batten in a loom.


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heddle (third-person singular simple present heddles, present participle heddling, simple past and past participle heddled)

  1. To thread each strand of the warp through the eye of a heddle.
    • 1947, Rayon Textile Monthly, Volume 28, page 377,
      After each frame has been heddled, stand upright within easy reach until the full set has been completed.
    • 1982, Arthur MacGregor, Anglo-Scandinavian Finds from Lloyds Bank, Pavement, and Other Sites[3], volume 17, page 118:
      This, of course, discounts the idea that the system of heddling based on Icelandic descriptions (Hoffmann, 1964, 188, fig. 91) has been used for all time, although it could in theory have been used for any of the 2/2 twills in the York collection.
    • 1994, Kim Mi-ju, Gender Division of Labor and Skill as a Factor of Sex Wage Differentials, Hyŏng Cho, Chang Pil-Wha (editors), Gender Division of Labor (in) Korea, Ewha Womans University Press, 116,
      After heddling she takes the reeds and arranges them as ordered. She knows that if reed denting is uneven, the textile is ruined.

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