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 Marathi dongrī) is a historical term for an Indian coarse thick 2/2[citation needed] twill-weave cotton cloth, often coloured blue.[1][better source needed]

Cotton twill with indigo dyed warp thread is now more commonly referred to as denim,[2] or more specifically blue denim. The word is possibly derived from Dongri, a dockside village near Mumbai.[3]

In American 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.[3] By 1891 Kipling was using the word to refer to a kind of garment (in the plural)[4] as well as a fabric.[5]

Dungaree vs. denim[edit]

Dungaree is an earlier term for denim.[1] Typically only the warp threads are pre-dyed with the traditional colouring agent indigo, the weft threads are left uncoloured (white), resulting in the unique fade patterns of the fabric. Denim however refers to cotton twill which may be warp dyed, undyed, or dyed after weaving. Denim may be 2x1 or 3x1 twill.[6] It is unclear what types of twill dungaree fabric were available traditionally.


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.[7]


  1. ^ a b https://cmes.uchicago.edu/sites/cmes.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/Global/New%20Story%20of%20Jeans.pdf
  2. ^ "Levi's site consistently talks about Denim not Dungaree". levi.com. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Dungaree". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  4. ^ 1891, R. Kipling, poem, The City of Dreadful Night "He's got his dungarees on."
  5. ^ R. Kipling, The Bridge Builders, "Peroo was standing on the topmost coping of the tower, clad in the blue dungaree of his abandoned service ...".
  6. ^ "Heddels Know your twills". heddels.com. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  7. ^ Mill at Shady Lea origins