winding sheet

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winding sheet (plural winding sheets)

  1. A burial shroud.
  2. (historical) A collection of tallow rising up against the wick of a candle, once regarded as an omen of death.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
      He resorted to his pint of wine for consolation, drank it all in a few minutes, and fell asleep on his arms, with his hair straggling over the table, and a long winding-sheet in the candle dripping down upon him.