out of whole cloth


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Related to out of whole cloth: cut from the same cloth

(made up) out of whole cloth

to be completely invented The whole article was a fairy tale, made up out of whole cloth.
See also: cloth, of, out, whole

out of whole cloth

From pure fabrication or fiction. This expression is often put as cut (or made) out of whole cloth, as in That story was cut out of whole cloth. In the 15th century this expression referred to something fabricated from cloth that ran the full length of the loom. However, by the 1800s it was common practice for tailors to deceive their customers and, instead of using whole cloth, actually make garments from pieced goods. Their advertising slogan, "cut out of whole cloth," thus came to mean "made up, false."
See also: cloth, of, out, whole

out of whole cloth

1. By means of the imagination or as a fabrication: "Some of her stories she created out of whole cloth; for others she began with an incident Idella had described and then reimagined it into a full story" (Kate Walbert).
2. Out of nothing; from the very start: "The idea of creating out of whole cloth an intelligence network in a country like that is daunting" (Jack Reed).
See also: cloth, of, out, whole

out of whole cloth

Fictitious. The most convincing explanation for this phrase deals with Middle Ages tailors who wove fabric on large looms, then cut the pieces into suits and dresses. Garments made from a single bolt of cloth were far preferable to ones made from leftover pieces. Dishonest tailors tried to convince customers that their clothes were made of whole cloth. When their lie was found out enough times, “whole cloth” came to stand for a fabrication, the meaning that survives to this day.
See also: cloth, of, out, whole