out of whole cloth


Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to out of whole cloth: cut from the same cloth

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

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

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 (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

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

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

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