Dungaree (fabric)

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Dungaree is typically associated with working clothes, here seen on mechanics working on a Texan trainer during the Second World War.

Dungaree fabric (used in English since 1605–15, from the Hindi dungrī) is a kind of coarse thick 2/2 twill-weave cotton cloth, often coloured blue. The word is possibly derived from Dongri, a dockside village near Mumbai.[1] In US English the term is used for hard-wearing work trousers made from such fabric, and in British English for bib overalls in various fabrics, either for casual or work use.[1] By 1891 Kipling was using the word to refer to a kind of garment (in the plural)[2] as well as a fabric.[3] As a fabric, it is used largely the same way as jeans cloth, to make sturdy trousers. In many non-Anglophone countries, the two words are interchangeable (British vs. US English).[4]

Dungaree vs. denim[edit]

Dungaree is often compared to denim, but the two fabrics are coloured in different ways, dungaree traditionally being woven from pre-coloured yarn, while denim was made from uncoloured yarn and only coloured after weaving.[4] Typically only the warp threads are pre-dyed with the traditional colouring agent indigo, the weft threads are left uncoloured (white), resulting in the typical medium blue colour of the fabric. Otherwise the two fabrics are identical, and dungaree is sometimes termed "blue denim".[5]


In United States, the mill at Shady Lea, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, was built in the late 1820s by Esbon Sanford to manufacture a cotton-wool blend twill fabric called Kentucky Jean, resembling a cross between burlap and the dungaree fabric of today.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Dungaree". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  2. ^ 1891, R. Kipling, poem, The City of Dreadful Night "He's got his dungarees on."
  3. ^ R. Kipling, The Bridge Builders, "Peroo was standing on the topmost coping of the tower, clad in the blue dungaree of his abandoned service ...".
  4. ^ a b "Du spør – vi svarer". Språknytt (in Norwegian). Språkrådet (Norwegian Language Council). Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Dungaree". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Mill at Shady Lea origins