Textile Idiom Series: “Dyed-in-the-wool”

February 27, 2023

Much of our everyday language—in the form of idioms, clichés, or metaphors—makes reference to textiles. Using these phrases, we weave stories, spin tales, and thread narratives. But where do these expressions come from, and what do they mean? 

In a new blog series posted on intermittent Mondays, we will be unpacking textile-related idioms. Stay tuned to learn their metaphorical and historical meanings.

“Dyed-in-the-wool” describes an individual who is set in their ways and unwilling to change their beliefs and/or habits. They hold their beliefs strongly and will not be swayed. 

The phrase comes from the practice of dyeing wool before it is spun into threads instead of after; when done in this order, the color of the wool is less likely to change as it is spun. 

“True blue,” which refers to a similar kind of individual with strongly-held beliefs, may also refer to dye, as certain blue dyes have the ability to resist fading.