Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A coarse, brightly printed cloth.
  • n. Chiefly British A plain white cotton cloth, heavier than muslin.
  • n. An animal, such as a cat, having a coat that is mottled in tones of white with red and black.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having a pattern of red and contrasting areas, resembling the color of calico cloth.
  • n. A kind of rough cloth, often printed with a bright pattern.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Plain white cloth made from cotton, but which receives distinctive names according to quality and use
  • n. Cotton cloth printed with a figured pattern.
  • adj. Made of, or having the appearance of, calico; -- often applied to an animal, as a horse or cat, on whose body are large patches of a color strikingly different from its main color.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Properly, any white cotton cloth: as, unbleached calico, shirting-calico, etc. Calico was first manufactured in India, whence it was introduced into Europe.
  • n. In the United States, printed cotton cloth of a coarser quality than muslin.
  • Made of calico: as, a calico gown.
  • Resembling printed cotton or calico; spotted; piebald: as, a calico horse.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. coarse cloth with a bright print
  • adj. made of calico or resembling calico in being patterned
  • adj. having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly

Etymologies

After Calicut .
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Calicut, in India, from where the cloth was originally exported, from Malayalam കോഴിക്കോട് ("Kozhikode"), from koyil ("palace") + kota ("fort"), “fortified palace”, with ‘y’ replaced by interchangeable ‘zh’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To the lady asking about leggings, I wear leggings under all my dresses; long and warm for winter, and 'Petti Pants' (like wide bermuda shorts but in calico with an elastic waist) for summer. over these a slip (or petiblouse if wearing a skirt) and I'm set for the day.

    Portrait in Blue, by Gabriel Nicolet, 1856-1921

  • And in the meantime, our calico is still sitting on her shelf, waiting for a paycheck.

    Dogs With Jobs

  • In America, it is sometimes called the calico cat.

    Concerning Cats My Own and Some Others

  • But there I find two figures in calico wrappers, with bare red arms akimbo, a basket of wet clothes in front of each, and only one empty clothes-line between them.

    The Promised Land

  • She robbed the windows of their lawn and muslin curtains, replacing them with gaudy calico from the trade-store, and made herself several gowns.

    A Hard-Bitten Gang

  • Most of the latter were encased in calico bags, which could be hung in the shade, secure from either ants or flies, the remainder, packed in tins, being stowed away easily in the corner of one of the tents.

    A Little Bush Maid

  • Some were dressed in calico suits, trimmed with little ruffles – ruffles round the bottom of the pants, ruffles down the front and round the tails of the coats; and on both sides of the button-holes of their vests were rows of small ruffles.

    Man's Rights: or, How Would You Like It?

  • I've always thought the multi-colored kitties like that one are called calico or sometimes, like when they have more white on them like your pretty, namesless kitty of the day, called tortiseshell.

    Cat Visit to Victoria RSPCA: New friends and plots of global domination

  • The calico is the smallest and in many ways the stupidest.

    Introducing Catman's Kids

  • I do know the calico is a female, since genetics dictate.

    Archive 2009-10-01

Comments

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  • "Now that Albertine no longer appeared to be angry with me, the possession of her no longer seemed to me a treasure in exchange for which one is prepared to sacrifice every other. For perhaps one would have done so only to rid oneself of a grief, an anxiety, which are now appeased. One has succeeded in jumping through the calico hoop through which one thought for a moment that one would never be able to pass."
    -- The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright, p 556 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    February 11, 2010

  • The Duel
    (The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat
    by Eugene Field
    The gingham dog and the calico cat
    Side by side on the table sat;
    'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
    Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
    The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
    Appeared to know as sure as fate
    There was going to be a terrible spat.
    (I wasn't there; I simply state
    What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

    The gingham dog went " Bow-wow-wow!"
    And the calico cat replied "Me-ow!"
    The air was littered,an hour or so,
    With bits of gingham and calico,
    While the old Dutch clock in the chimney place
    Up with it hands before its face,
    For it always dreaded a family row!
    (Now mind: I'm only telling you
    What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

    The Chinese plate looked very blue,
    And wailed,"Oh dear! What shall we do!"
    But the gingham dog and the calico cat
    Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
    Employing every tooth and claw
    In the awfullest way you ever saw-
    And oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
    (Don't fancy I exaggerate!
    I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

    Next morning where the two had sat
    They found no trace of dog or cat;
    And some folks think unto this day
    That burglars stole the pair away!
    But the truth about the cat and pup
    Is this: they ate each other up!
    Now what do you really think of that!
    (The old Dutch clock, it told me so,
    And that is how I came to know.)

    January 25, 2008