cloth

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back-cloth star

An actor or performer who takes the focus of the audience away from the other actors on stage by positioning him- or herself in such a way that the other actors' backs are to the audience. Everyone said after the show that his performance was riveting, but to be honest, I think he's just a back-cloth star. He made it so he was the only one we could ever see!
See also: star

cut out of whole cloth

Completely fictional or utterly false; totally made up. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being "cut out of whole cloth," when, in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts. To be honest, I don't believe a word he says—it sounds cut out of whole cloth to me.
See also: cloth, cut, of, out, whole

made out of whole cloth

Completely fictional or utterly false; totally made up. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being "cut out of whole cloth," when, in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts. To be honest, I don't believe a word he says—it sounds made out of whole cloth to me.
See also: cloth, made, of, out, whole

cut from whole cloth

Completely fictional or utterly false; totally made up. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being "cut out of whole cloth," when, in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts. To be honest, I don't believe a word he says—it sounds like it's cut from whole cloth to me.
See also: cloth, cut, whole

made from whole cloth

Completely fictional or utterly false; totally made up. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being "cut out of whole cloth," when, in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts. To be honest, I don't believe a word he says—it sounds like it's made from whole cloth to me.
See also: cloth, made, whole

be touching cloth

semi-vulgar slang To have a very urgent or desperate need to defecate. (Refers jokingly to one's feces protruding into one's underpants.) Boy, it's a good thing we got home when we did—I was touching cloth on the way here!
See also: cloth, touching

whole cloth

Make-believe; invention. Usually appears in the phrase "out of whole cloth." A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being "cut out of whole cloth," when, in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts. I broke curfew staying out too late with my boyfriend, but luckily I was able to make an excuse out of whole cloth about being at the library. When my sister refused to go to sleep without a bedtime story, I pulled a tale about princesses together out of whole cloth.
See also: cloth, whole

man of the cloth

A priest or clergyman. Ever since he was young, John knew he wanted to become a man of the cloth.
See also: cloth, man, of

cut from the same cloth

Very similar in characteristics or behaviors. I hate the snow, but my kids just love it—they are definitely cut from the same cloth. Julia and her mother are cut from the same cloth, as they are both so kind and sweet.
See also: cloth, cut, same

cloth ears

A humorous name for one who has not heard something that has been said. Primarily heard in UK. Come on, cloth ears, she practically shouted the answer—how did you miss it?
See also: cloth, ear

cut (one's) coat according to (one's) cloth

To shop or act in accordance with one's financial limitations. You'll go bankrupt unless you start cutting your coat according to your cloth.
See also: accord, cloth, coat, cut

take the cloth

To become a member of the clergy, typically a priest. Fewer young men are taking the cloth these days.
See also: cloth, take

make (something) up out of whole cloth

To fabricate something completely fictional or utterly false. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being "cut out of whole cloth," when, in reality, they were pieced together from different cuts. To be honest, I don't believe a word he says—it sounds like he made it up out of whole cloth to me.
See also: cloth, make, of, out, up, whole

sackcloth and ashes

Penitence or remorse for one's misdeeds or poor behavior. As the phrase originates from an ancient tradition of wearing sackcloth as a show of repentance, "sackcloth and ashes" is typically accompanied by verbs like "wear." Darren has been wearing sackcloth and ashes ever since his girlfriend broke up with him for cheating on her. There's no way to turn back time on the way I treated my brother growing up. All I can do now is stay in sackcloth and ashes.
See also: and, ash, sackcloth

out of whole cloth

From fiction, the imagination, or total fabrication. To be honest, I don't believe a word he says—it sounds cut out of whole cloth to me. I broke curfew staying out too late with my boyfriend, but luckily I was able to make an excuse out of whole cloth about being at the library.
See also: cloth, of, out, whole

cut from the same cloth

 and made from the same mold
Fig. sharing a lot of similarities; seeming to have been created, reared, or fashioned in the same way. She and her brother are cut from the same cloth. They both tell lies all the time. Father and son are made from the same mold and even sound alike on the telephone.
See also: cloth, cut, same

cut one's coat according to one's cloth

 and cut one's coat to suit one's cloth
Prov. to plan one's aims and activities in line with one's resources and circumstances. We would like a bigger house, but we must cut our coat according to our cloth. They can't afford a vacation abroad—they have to cut their coat according to their cloth.
See also: accord, cloth, coat, cut

make something up out of whole cloth

Fig. to fabricate a story or a lie. That's a lie. You just made that up out of whole cloth. That's a lie. You just made up that story out of whole cloth.
See also: cloth, make, of, out, up, whole

man of the cloth

Fig. a clergyman. Father Brown is a man of the cloth and is welcome at our table for dinner every Sunday.
See also: cloth, man, of

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

sackcloth and ashes

Mourning or penitence, as in What I did to Julie's child was terrible, and I've been in sackcloth and ashes ever since . This term refers to the ancient Hebrew custom of indicating humility before God by wearing a coarse cloth, normally used to make sacks, and dusting oneself with ashes. In English it appeared in William Tyndale's 1526 biblical translations (Matthew 11:21), "They [the cities Tyre and Sidon] had repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."
See also: and, ash, sackcloth

be cut from the same cloth

mainly BRITISH
If two or more people are cut from the same cloth, they are very similar in their character, attitudes, or behaviour. It's often said that London critics are all cut from the same cloth: that they are white, male, middle-aged and middle-class. Note: You can say that people are cut from a different cloth, meaning they are very different. His brother was cut from an altogether different cloth.
See also: cloth, cut, same

cloth ears

BRITISH
If someone has cloth ears, they do not pay attention or listen to something important. We've tried telling the government on numerous occasions but they have cloth ears. Note: You can also describe someone as cloth-eared. Even cloth-eared politicians have finally realised the scale of the problem.
See also: cloth, ear

cut your cloth

mainly BRITISH
If you cut your cloth according to your situation, you limit what you do to take account of the resources you have. Ford would be forced to cut its cloth according to the demands of the market. The Government would have to cut its cloth and eliminate programmes which were not used. Note: You can also say that you cut your coat according to your cloth, with the same meaning. Organisations which are supported by the taxpayer must cut their coats according to their cloth.
See also: cloth, cut

make something of whole cloth

or

make something up of whole cloth

AMERICAN
If someone makes a story or statement of whole cloth or makes up a story or statement of whole cloth, they invent all of it. There are those who say that story was made of whole cloth. It's the biggest journalistic scandal since Jones won a Pulitzer prize for a story she made up from whole cloth. Note: Verbs such as create and invent are sometimes used instead of make. It would not be the first time he had tried to make millions by creating causes out of whole cloth.
See also: cloth, make, of, something, whole

cloth ears

an inability to hear or understand clearly. British informal derogatory
See also: cloth, ear

cut from the same cloth

of the same nature.
1999 Washington Post The last thing a franchise needs is for the two most important men at the top to be cut from the same cloth.
See also: cloth, cut, same

cut your coat according to your cloth

undertake only what you have the money or ability to do and no more. proverb
See also: accord, cloth, coat, cut

man of the cloth

a clergyman.
Jonathan Swift used cloth as an informal term for the clerical profession in the early 18th century, but it was earlier applied to several other occupations for which distinctive clothing was worn, e.g. the legal or military professions.
See also: cloth, man, of

out of (the) whole cloth

wholly fabricated; with no basis in fact or reality. North American informal
1991 Ron Rosenbaum Travels with Dr. Death The fact that her murder is officially ‘unsolved’ is irritating, yes, but not justification for creating conspiracy theories out of the whole cloth.
See also: cloth, of, out, whole

be ˌcut from the same ˈcloth

be very similar in character, quality, experience, etc: Don’t assume all the women in our family are cut from the same cloth.
See also: cloth, cut, same

ˌcut your ˈcoat acˌcording to your ˈcloth

(saying) do only what you have enough money to do and no more: This has not been a good year for us financially, and we must be prepared to cut our coat according to our cloth.
See also: accord, cloth, coat, cut

a ˌman of ˈGod/the ˈcloth

(old-fashioned, formal) a religious man, especially a priest or a clergyman
See also: cloth, god, man, of

in cloth

With a clothbound binding; as a clothbound book.
See also: cloth

cut from the same cloth

Similar or the same.
See also: cloth, cut, same

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
References in classic literature ?
He had chasubles, also, of amber-coloured silk, and blue silk and gold brocade, and yellow silk damask and cloth of gold, figured with representations of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ, and embroidered with lions and peacocks and other emblems; dalmatics of white satin and pink silk damask, decorated with tulips and dolphins and fleurs-de-lis; altar frontals of crimson velvet and blue linen; and many corporals, chalice-veils, and sudaria.
Then slowly he drew forth his fat purse and threw it upon the cloth in front of him.
Here,' drawing the cloth off with great pride and care, 'are two pieces of furniture to commence with.
On the right shoulder of the mantle there was cut, in white cloth, a cross of a peculiar form.
Everybody in the whole town knew what a wonderful power the cloth had, and they were all curious to see how bad or how stupid their neighbour was.
Then I thought that the man I had just seen had been clothed in bluish cloth, had not been naked as a savage would have been; and I tried to persuade myself from that fact that he was after all probably a peaceful character, that the dull ferocity of his countenance belied him.
It was covered with a lace cloth and draped with green wreaths.
This appeared to give them a little confidence, so I approached nearer, presenting the cloth with one hand, and holding the bough with the other, while they slowly retreated.
He drew the cloth from the child's face, and it smiled sleepily at Kim.
The cook was slovenly, and so was the table, and it had no cloth on it.
It was a little book in blue cloth, and there were some mild wood- cuts in it.
The fairies sit round on mushrooms, and at first they are very well-behaved and always cough off the table, and so on, but after a bit they are not so well-behaved and stick their fingers into the butter, which is got from the roots of old trees, and the really horrid ones crawl over the table- cloth chasing sugar or other delicacies with their tongues.
Vasili Andreevich left the cloth unadjusted and went up to the sledge.
He was clad in a thin undershirt and a strip of cotton cloth, that wrapped about his waist and descended to his knees.
Pulling the stick of dynamite out from the twist of his loin cloth and glancing at the cigar to be certain it was alight, he rose to his feet with leisurely swiftness and with leisurely swiftness gained the rail.