Bombazine, or bombasine, is a fabric originally made of silk or silk and wool, and now also made of cotton and wool or of wool alone. Quality bombazine is made with a silk warp and a worsted weft. It is twilled or corded and used for dress-material. Black bombazine was once used largely for mourning wear, but the material had gone out of fashion by the beginning of the 20th century.
The word is derived from the obsolete French bombasin, applied originally to silk but afterwards to tree-silk or cotton. Bombazine is said to have been made in England in Elizabeth I’s reign, and early in the 19th century it was largely made at Norwich.
In Moby Dick, the central character, Ishmael, describes a forester (logger) looking for work as a whaler as being dressed very inappropriately in a '....sou'wester and a bombazine cloak.'
In The Song of the Lark Willa Cather describes Mrs. Kronborg as wearing "a tan bombazine dress made very plainly" as she traveled by train to Denver with her daughter Thea. See Part II, Chapter 16.
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- Melville, Herman Moby Dick, Chapter 6 'The Street'