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DYED in the wool

Posted by Ilir on September 21, 1999

In Reply to: DYED in the wool posted by ESC on September 08, 1999

: : I'm just 'dying' to find out what this phrase means, and where it came from. Thanks, and sorry for the pitiful pun.

: This from "Hog on Ice" by Charles Earle Funk (Harper & Row, 1948):

: Dyed in the wool -- if wool is dyed before it's made up into yarn, or while it was still raw wool, the color would be more firmly fixed. "The figurative sense -- have one's habits or traits so deeply ingrained as to be inflexible -- seems not to have been used in England before the late sixteenth century, for a writer of that period thought he had to explain his meaning when he used it. This was odd, for England was largely dependent upon her textile industry then and earlier..."

I don't beleive this is correct. Dyed in the wool refers to the color of the wool when it is still on the sheep. I.E. black yarn from a black sheep is died in the wool. It is not actually dies, it is part of it's nature and is unchangeable. Thus if someone was a dyed in the wool communist it would mean that it was deeply ingrained as it is part of his very character, unchangeable and perhaps even born into his beleifs.