According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "Probably from a misreading of an English transcription of Kannada ಉಕ್ಕು, ಉರ್ಕು (ukku, urku, “steel”); akin to Tamil [script needed] (uruku, “to melt”) and [script needed] (urukku, “melted thing, steel”).
- A famous type of steel from India, much admired for making sword blades.
- 1863, The celebrated wootz or steel of India, made in little cakes of only about two pounds weight, possesses qualities which no European steel can surpass. — Industrial Biography, Samuel Smiles, 1963.
- 1884, The word first appears in 'Experiments and Observations to investigate the Nature of a Kind of Steel manufactured at Bombay, and there called Wootz,' ... By G. Pearson, M.D. (paper read before the Royal Soc., June 11, 1795). — Robert F. Burton, The Book of the Sword, page 110.
In earlier usage it appears as simply wootz (see quotations), later being referred to as wootz steel