Mid 17th century French tabis, from Arabic عَتَّابِيّ (ʿattābiyy), ultimately from Arabic الْعَتَّابِيَّة (al-ʿattābiyya), a quarter of Baghdad (named for a Prince عَتَّاب (ʿattāb)) which is associated with the manufacture of a certain type of waved silk. See also taffeta, another type of silk whose name derives from the Persian تافته (tâfta, “woven cloth”) and shares a similar etymological origin.
- (countable, uncountable) A kind of waved silk, usually called watered silk, manufactured like taffeta, but thicker and stronger. The watering is given to it by calendering.
- 1863, Sheridan Le Fanu, The House by the Churchyard:
- 'Ay, ay; she wore a flowered silk tabby sacque, on band days,' said Toole, who had an eye and a corner in his memory for female costume, 'a fine showy—I remember.'
- (uncountable) A mixture of lime with shells, gravel, or stones, in equal proportions, with an equal proportion of water. When dry, this becomes as hard as rock.
- (countable) A brindled cat.
- (countable, archaic) An old maid or gossip.
- (An old maid or gossip): See Thesaurus:old woman
tabby (not comparable)
- Having a wavy or watered appearance
- a tabby waistcoat
- Brindled; diversified in color
- a tabby cat.
- (transitive) To give a wavy or watered appearance to (a textile).