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See also: Tabby



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.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtæb.i/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æbi


tabby (countable and uncountable, plural tabbies)

  1. (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.'
  2. (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.
  3. (countable) A brindled cat.
    • 1922 , James Joyce, Ulysses, chapter V:[1]
      A wise tabby, a blinking sphinx, watched from her warm sill. Pity to disturb them. Mohammed cut a piece out of his mantle not to wake her.
  4. (countable, archaic) An old maid or gossip.




tabby (not comparable)

  1. Having a wavy or watered appearance.
    a tabby waistcoat
  2. Brindled; diversified in color.
    a tabby cat



tabby (third-person singular simple present tabbies, present participle tabbying, simple past and past participle tabbied)

  1. (transitive) To give a wavy or watered appearance to (a textile).