Doily
   In the late seventeenth century, during the reign of Queen Anne, an ingenious merchant sold a material that appealed to his customers because it was attractive and cheap. The material was used for summertime wear, but another use for the material has continued to this day, even though the material is no longer used for summer clothing. The shopkeeper, whose shop was in the Strand in London, was named Doily, Doiley, Doyley, or Doyly. His given name is unknown, but his product has thrived. His name, anyway, as doily, has memorialized him in the form of an ornamental mat or napkin used on cake dishes and the like. Hostesses placed these doilies under glassware and finger bowls. They were the precursor of today's mats.
   During the early days of Doiley's venture, when the material sold for clothing, according to an issue of January 24, 1712, "Doiley raised a fortune by finding out materials for such Stuffs as might at once be cheap and genteel." Dryden mentioned doyley petticoats, and Steele wrote of his doiley suit in No. 102 of the Tatler. But the spelling has become doily.
   In Japan the taxicabs have doilies on the back of the passengers' seats. In America there is another use for the word doily. Men's wigs have different names, depending on their size. A doily is designed for the fellow who still has traces of his own hair on the sides and back of his head.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • doily — 1714, short for doily napkin (1711), from doily thin, woolen fabric; supposedly from Doiley, surname of a 17c. early 18c. dry goods dealer on London s Strand. Doily earlier meant genteel, affordable woolens (1670s), evidently from the same source …   Etymology dictionary

  • Doily — Doi ly, n. [So called from the name of the dealer.] 1. A kind of woolen stuff. [Obs.] Some doily petticoats. Dryden. [1913 Webster] A fool and a doily stuff, would now and then find days of grace, and be worn for variety. Congreve. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • doily — [doi′lē] n. pl. doilies [after a 17th c. London draper named Doily or Doyley] 1. a small napkin 2. a small mat, as of lace or paper, put under a dish, vase, or the like, as a decoration or to protect a surface …   English World dictionary

  • doily — meaning ‘a napkin’, is spelt like this, not doiley or doyly. (despite the word s origin: it is named after a 17c London draper called Doiley). The plural is doilies …   Modern English usage

  • doily — ► NOUN (pl. doilies) ▪ a small ornamental mat made of lace or paper. ORIGIN from Doiley or Doyley, a 17th century London draper …   English terms dictionary

  • Doily — A doily A doily (or doilie) is an ornamental mat, originally the name of a fabric made by Doiley, a 17th century London draper.[1] Doily earlier meant genteel, affordable woolens , evidently from the same source.[2] …   Wikipedia

  • doily — [17] In the latter part of the 17th century a certain Mr Doily kept a celebrated draper’s shop in the Strand, London, not too far from where the Aldwych now is (‘The famous Doily is still fresh in every one’s Memory, who raised a Fortune by… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • doily — [17] In the latter part of the 17th century a certain Mr Doily kept a celebrated draper’s shop in the Strand, London, not too far from where the Aldwych now is (‘The famous Doily is still fresh in every one’s Memory, who raised a Fortune by… …   Word origins

  • doily — n. a lace; linen; paper doily * * * [ dɔɪlɪ] linen paper doily a lace …   Combinatory dictionary

  • doily — UK [ˈdɔɪlɪ] / US noun [countable] Word forms doily : singular doily plural doilies a round piece of paper or cloth with a pattern of holes that you put on a plate before putting cakes, sandwiches etc on it, or that you put on a table or piece of… …   English dictionary

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