cloth

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Related to cloths: Clothes shopping, Online shopping
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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

be touching cloth

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

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) cloth

To act in accordance with one's limitations, often financial. Primarily heard in UK. You'll go bankrupt if you don't start cutting your cloth.
See also: cloth, cut

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

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

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

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

cut from whole cloth

Entirely fictional or utterly false; completely fabricated and not based on reality at all. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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

cut out of whole cloth

Entirely fictional or utterly false; completely fabricated and not based on reality at all. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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

in cloth

Bound in cloth, as of certain books. Wow, this is a rare edition of "Wuthering Heights" in cloth!
See also: cloth

made from whole cloth

Entirely fictional or utterly false; completely fabricated and not based on reality at all. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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

made out of whole cloth

Entirely fictional or utterly false; completely fabricated and not based on reality at all. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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

make (something) up out of whole cloth

To fabricate something entirely fictional or utterly false and not based on reality at all. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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

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

out of whole cloth

Entirely from fiction or the imagination, or through complete fabrication; not based on reality at all. A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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. 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

sackcloth and ashes

Penitence or remorse for one's misdeeds or poor behavior. The phrase originates from an ancient tradition of wearing sackcloth as a show of repentance, and 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

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

whole cloth

An entirely fictional account not based on reality at all; make-believe. Usually appears in the phrase "out of whole cloth." A reference to tailors who would falsely advertise garments being made "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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

out of whole cloth

A fabrication; untrue. From the mid-fifteenth century on, whole cloth meant a piece of cloth of full size, as opposed to one from which a portion had been cut. The term was used figuratively in various ways from the late sixteenth century on, and the current cliché came into use in the early 1800s. Lexicographer Charles Funk suggested that the turnaround came from the fact that some tailors deceived customers by using patched or pieced goods instead of a genuine full width of cloth. William Safire commented that by ironic transference the fabrication (cloth) was treated as another kind of fabrication (a lie). An early appearance in print came in Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s The Clockmaker (1840): “All that talk about her temper was made out of whole cloth. . . . What a fib!”
See also: cloth, of, out, whole
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
See also:
References in classic literature ?
'I should like very much to know how far they have got on with the cloth,' thought the Emperor.
'He can judge best what the cloth is like, for he has intellect, and no one understands his office better than he.'
The tails of two snakes were hanging between the cloth and the cornice of the wall.
We could hear the dry rushing scuttle of long bodies running over the baggy cloth. Strickland took a lamp with him, while I tried to make clear the danger of hunting roof snakes between a ceiling cloth and a thatch, apart from the deterioration of property caused by ripping out ceiling-cloths.
"I should like to know how the weavers are getting on with my cloth," said the Emperor to himself, after some little time had elapsed; he was, however, rather embarrassed, when he remembered that a simpleton, or one unfit for his office, would be unable to see the manufacture.
"I will send my faithful old minister to the weavers," said the Emperor at last, after some deliberation, "he will be best able to see how the cloth looks; for he is a man of sense, and no one can be more suitable for his office than be is."
For four days the bano was filled with people, for which reason the reed delayed its appearance for four days, but at the end of that time, when the bano was, as it generally was, empty, it appeared with the cloth so bulky that it promised a happy birth.
I renewed my promise to be her husband; and thus the next day that the bano chanced to be empty she at different times gave us by means of the reed and cloth two thousand gold crowns and a paper in which she said that the next Juma, that is to say Friday, she was going to her father's garden, but that before she went she would give us more money; and if it were not enough we were to let her know, as she would give us as much as we asked, for her father had so much he would not miss it, and besides she kept all the keys.
"Ha, what's this?" asked Napoleon, noticing that all the courtiers were looking at something concealed under a cloth.
With courtly adroitness de Beausset half turned and without turning his back to the Emperor retired two steps, twitching off the cloth at the same time, and said:
"I doubt not that if I set you down in my shop at Norwich you might scarce tell fustian from falding, and know little difference between the velvet of Genoa and the three-piled cloth of Bruges.
"When I sell my cloth," quoth he, "he who buys may weigh and feel and handle.
The hand holding the damp cloth with which she had been cleaning the inscription dropped to her side.
On the right shoulder of the mantle there was cut, in white cloth, a cross of a peculiar form.
Was he so sure that he would enjoy wearing clothes again?