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From Middle English walken, walkien, from Old English wealcian (to roll up; muffle up), from Proto-Germanic *walkōną (to roll about; full (cloth)). Cognate with Scots waulk (to full), Dutch walken (to full), German walken (to full), Danish valke (to full), Swedish valka (to full). Doublet of English walk.


waulk (third-person singular simple present waulks, present participle waulking, simple past and past participle waulked)

  1. (transitive, obsolete, Northern England, Scotland) to make cloth (especially tweed in Scotland) denser and more felt-like by soaking and beating.
    • 1900, Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica, Volume 1, page 310,
      The frame on which the cloth is waulked is a board some twelve to twenty-four feet long and about two feet broad, grooved lengthwise along its surface.
    • 1992, Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber, Random House Group (Arrow Books), page 590,
      I hid a smile at the mention of wool waulking. Alone among the Highland farms, I was sure, the women of Lailybroch waulked their wool not only to the old traditional chants but also to the rhythms of Moliére and Piron.
    • 2013, Marek Korczynski, Michael Pickering, Emma Robertson, Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain, Cambridge University Press, page 97,
      Here, we compare waulking songs and shanties to see how they operated in bringing women and men, respectively, into a sense of close alignment.


  • (make denser and more like felt by soaking and beating): full, walk




Old English wealcan (to roll, toss).



waulk (third-person singular present waulks, present participle waulkin, past waulkit, past participle waulkit)

  1. (transitive) to full (cloth)
  2. (intransitive) (of cloth) to shrink from moisture