Britlish

Fleece

Vocabulary

Vocabulary

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Fleece is a man-made fabric made from a plastic fibre called polyester. The polyester fleece fabric was first created in the 1970s by the company Malden Mills. As Malden Mills chose not to patent their invention, the inexpensive fleece was soon available to everyone and its popularity has since far exceeded that of wool. This lesson looks at vocabulary associated with fleeces and wool.

It is getting ​ chilly ​ again with the approach of winter and it is time to ​ dig out ​ the fleeces from the wardrobe. Fleece is a man-made ​ fabric ​ made from a plastic fibre called polyester. The polyester fibres are first ​ woven ​ together to form a fabric before being brushed into a thicker, more insulating fabric. The fabric has a ​ pile ​ surface on both sides which is formed by the cut ends of the fibres. This pile traps air ​ pockets ​ which hold in the warmth. The fabric is warm, light, and ​ durable ​. It is also moisture-resistant and both lighter and warmer than the ​ wool ​ from which it gets its name. These properties make fleece garments ideal for ​ extreme ​ weather use or as sportswear and its popularity has grown since the 1990s. Garments made from fleece are also known as fleeces.

The polyester fleece ​ fabric ​ was first created in the 1970s by the company Malden Mills. Their ​ aim ​ was to create a fabric which had all the ​ advantages ​ of wool without the ​ disadvantages ​. The main disadvantages of wool are that you need ​ sheep ​ to create it and that it absorbs water and becomes very ​ heavy ​ when wet. If you have ever washed a woolly jumper, you will know just how much ​ water ​ wool can hold. As Malden Mills chose not to ​ patent ​ their invention, the ​ inexpensive ​ fleece was soon available to everyone and its popularity has since far exceeded that of wool. While wool may be a ​ natural ​ product, fleece can also claim to be environmentally friendly when produced from recycled plastics.

Sheep have fleeces and these fleeces are ​ spun ​ into wool which is either used for knitting or is woven into ​ woollen ​ fabric. Garments made from wool take the adjective ​ woolly ​, as in woolly jumper. We remove the fleece from a sheep by ​ shearing ​ the animal with ​ shears ​. The verb, to shear, is a regular-irregular verb: shear, sheared, sheared, or shear, sheared, shorn. A popular children’s animated series is ​ Shaun ​ the Sheep, the name of the sheep coming from the irregular past participle form of shear, ​ shorn ​. Shaun and shorn are homophones. The famous actor who played James Bond, ​ Sean ​ Connery, uses another homophone of Shaun, the original Irish spelling meaning John, but has nothing whatever to do with sheep. You may find James Bond hanging from a ​ sheer ​ cliff or two, however. 

As I said before, we ​ fleece ​ a sheep when we remove the fleece from it by ​ shearing ​ with shears. Such a sheep has been ​ shorn ​ of its fleece. Such a shorn sheep has had that which is valuable taken from it. By extension, we can also be ​ fleeced ​ if we fall victim to a scam where somebody takes something of value from us against our wishes. When we are tricked in such a way, we have had the ​ wool ​ pulled over our ​ eyes ​. Having the wool pulled over your eyes means that you figuratively cannot see the truth of what is going on and are being deceived.

The last thing I would like to talk about is ​ woolly ​ ​ thinking ​. If you are guilty of woolly thinking, you are ​ mentally ​ confused or unfocussed. Woolly thinkers are more likely to be ​ fleeced ​ as their thinking is ​ confused ​ and ​ vague ​. Should you go somewhere cold and have with you only your summer clothes and not a ​ fleece ​ or two, you might well be accused of woolly thinking. As you sit there ​ shivering ​ in the ​ chilly ​ air you might well wish that your woolly thinking had not got in the way of your packing a woolly ​ jumper ​ or a fleece or two in your suitcase.

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