Textile Idiom Series: “In Stitches”

June 26, 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 blog series posted on intermittent Mondays, we will be unpacking textile-related idioms. Stay tuned to learn their metaphorical and historical meanings.

If you’ve ever found yourself “in stitches” after hearing a hilarious joke, you know that laughing really hard can cause a stabbing feeling in your sides. The word “stitch” is Germanic in origin, from “stich,” which means “to stab”—when we stitch up a textile, we generally do so by stabbing it repeatedly with a threaded needle. 

Though the precise idiom,“it had me in stitches,” only dates back to the 1930s, various iterations have existed as far back as 1601: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night uses the phrase “you will laugh yourself into stitches.” In the spirit of today’s idiom, we’d like to leave you all in stitches with a textile pun: 

Have you heard of the new cult of fabric worshippers? They’re Satinists!