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A handkerchief box made of leatherette (sense 1).[n 1]
A “Peacock” side chair designed in the 1920s by Frank Lloyd Wright,[n 2] made from oak with leatherette upholstery (sense 1).

From leather +‎ -ette (suffix forming nouns meaning an imitation or substitute of something);[1] originally a trademark that has since been genericized.



leatherette (countable and uncountable, plural leatherettes)

  1. (countable, uncountable, also attributively) A type of fabric, often plastic, made to imitate the appearance of leather.
    Hypernym: pseudoleather
    Coordinate term: see pseudoleather § Hyponyms
    • 1875 May 4, “Leatherette”, in The Bookseller: A Newspaper of British and Foreign Literature, [], number CCX, London: Printed b John Ogden & Co., [], for the proprietor, Joseph Whitaker, [], →ISSN, →OCLC, page 405, column 1:
      Many attempts have been made to supply a material to take the place of leather on cheap books, but hitherto nothing has been quite successful. [...] Such a material has apparently appeared in the form of "Leatherette," which is a kind of felted paper, very tough, the same colour throughout, and which may be grained to imitate leather; indeed, the imitation is so close, both in appearance and in feel, that only a practised eye can perceive that it is not leather.
    • 1894 September 1, Walter J. Kenyon, “Paper and Cardboard Sloyd. VIII.”, in The School Journal: A Weekly Journal of Education, volume XLIX, number 7, New York, N.Y., Chicago, Ill.: E. L. Kellogg & Co., →OCLC, page 157:
      Material.—A rather stiff quality of jute board or tar board, similar to that used by bookbinders. Straw board is not serviceable, being too brittle. Also leatherette for covering and some figured paper for lining. Also some muslin or sateen for hinges. This should match the leatherette as nearly as possible in color. (Leatherette is an imitation leather, very durable, obtained at a paper house.)
    • 1912 January, R[obert] C. Matthews, Secretary, the Executive Council, “The Catalog Plan”, in Harold C. Dean, editor, The Bent of Tau Beta Pi, volume VII, number I, Menasha, Wis.: Tau Beta Pi; George Banta, official printer to the fraternity, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 45:
      The present bound book will be changed to a loose-leaf one, by shearing off the back and punching the leaves to fit an up-to-date cover. We have obtained a neat, classy, leatherette cover for this purpose, using imitation leather because it is neater than cloth, and cheaper and more durable than real leather.
    • 1917, Edith Wharton, chapter IX, in Summer [], New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton and Company, →OCLC, page 133:
      [T]he pink throats of gramophones opened their giant convolutions in a soundless chorus; or bicycles shining in neat ranks seemed to await the signal of an invisible starter; or tiers of fancy-goods in leatherette and paste and celluloid dangled their insidious graces; [...]
    • 1926 December, Denis Mackail, “The Two Mirrors”, in Geo[rge] Newnes, editor, The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, volume LXXII, London: George Newnes, Ltd., [], →OCLC, page 532, column 2:
      [H]e proceeded to a very hard seat in Block J. and, having forced his way into it, was immediately ordered to force his way out again for the purpose of hiring two small leatherette pads from the Kumfy Kushion Company—who, however, had only one small leatherette pad left, so that Chunks Rivers found himself in considerable torment long before the downfall of England began.
    • 1930, Dashiell Hammet, “The Levantine”, in The Maltese Falcon, New York, N.Y., London: Alfred A[braham] Knopf, →OCLC, pages 57–58:
      Beside the wallet and its contents there were three gaily colored silk handkerchiefs fragrant of chypre; a platinum Longines watch on a platinum and red gold chain, attached at the other end to a small pear-shaped pendant of some white metal; a handful of United States, British, French, and Chinese coins; a ring holding half a dozen keys; a silver and onyx fountain-pen; a metal comb in a leatherette case; a nail-file in a leatherette case; [...]
    • 1978 November, “Warm Leatherette”, Daniel Miller (lyrics), performed by The Normal:
      Quick let's make love, / Before we die. / On Warm Leatherette, / Join the carcrash set.
    • 1980 November 3, Bauhaus (Daniel Ash; Kevin Haskins; David J; Peter Murphy) (lyrics and music), “Dive”, in In the Flat Field, performed by Bauhaus:
      Fishnet leatherette / Pussy Galore / Pseudo Sumo wrestler / On the door
    • 1990, Robert Klitgaard, Tropical Gangsters: One Man’s Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa, New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, →ISBN, page 25:
      We returned to the old leatherette couches with the bottom cushions covered in cloth.
    • 1991, “Paperboard”, in F. A. Paine, editor, The Packaging User’s Handbook, Glasgow: Blackie Academic & Professional, Chapman & Hall, published 1996, →ISBN, page 77:
      There many covering papers, through generally in the rigid box industry, there are a number of standard types in use. These include enamels, flints, tints, leatherettes, and many others.
    • 2004, John T. Edge, Fried Chicken: An American Story, New York, N.Y.: G[eorge] P[almer] Putnam’s Sons, →ISBN, page 22:
      Today, four of Barberton's old-line chicken dinner restaurants survive: Belgrade Gardens, Hopocan Gardens, Village Inn, and White House Chicken. With the possible exception of Belgrade Gardens, all are best appreciated as linoleum-and-leatherette warhorses, glorified cafeterias that are long on value but short on decor.
    • 2015, Clare Clark, We That Are Left, London: Harvill Secker, →ISBN; republished London: Vintage, 2016, →ISBN, page 106:
      He weighed the camera in his hands, running his thumb over its leatherette sides, the worn nickel fittings.
  2. (countable, slang) A person who dresses in leather or imitation leather.
    • 1994, George Dawes Green, chapter 27, in The Caveman’s Valentine, New York, N.Y.: Warner Books, →ISBN; ebook edition, New York, N.Y.: Warner Books, March 2001, →ISBN:
      The NYU tarts and the club slime, the art holes and the once-a-week bridge-and-tunnel leatherettes, the spikes and the usual dregs and walking garbage, Eel was giving them all the hiss.
    • 2003 August 19, Bruce Vilanch, “Heathers in Leathers”, in Bruce C. Steele, editor, The Advocate, Los Angeles, Calif.: Liberation Publications, →ISSN, page 66, column 2:
      Since I seemed to know some of the leatherettes, I was a magnet for fellow Jews wanting to know what was going on.
    • 2005, Tom Horn, chapter 2, in The Devil and George Bailey, [s.l.]: RSE, published 2011, →ISBN, part III (Fire), page 827:
      I could tell in advance if they were screamers, or leatherettes, or buggers, or great head-givers, or into toys and ticklers – I had it down to an art.




  1. ^ leatherette, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1902; “leatherette, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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