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From the past participle of dye in the wool. The expression comes from the fact that fabric can be dyed in a number of ways. The woven fabric may be dyed after it is complete, or the threads may be dyed before they are woven. When a color is "dyed in the wool," the wool itself is dyed before being spun into threads, so the colour is least likely to fade or change. (Dyes: Webster’s Quotations, Facts and Phrases. Icon Group International. 2008, p. 344.)


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˌdaɪd ɪn ðə ˈwʊl/
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dyed-in-the-wool (comparative more dyed-in-the-wool, superlative most dyed-in-the-wool)

  1. (of textiles) Dyed before being formed into cloth.
  2. (idiomatic, figuratively) Firmly established in a person's beliefs or habits; deeply ingrained in the nature of a person or thing.
    Smith was a dyed-in-the-wool typist and never really got used to writing on computers.
    John Major was described by his opponents as a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative.
    • 2021 April 7, Christian Wolmar, “Electrification is a given... but comfort matters as well”, in RAIL, number 928, page 47:
      Again, to go back to the history of British Railways, there were moves to introduce electrification more widely when the West Coast Main Line was sparked up in the 1960s, but this was rejected by dyed-in-the-wool old regional railway managers who did not like the hassle of putting up the wires.

Usage notes[edit]

The expression "dyed in the wool" refers to a state of steadfastness, especially with respect to one's political, religious or social beliefs.