General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun material used to cover a hardbound book


  • A large section of canvas or similar material that hangs fromthe flies as painted scenery. It is called a sky cloth whencoloured blue to represent the sky. A ceiling cloth is usedto create a ceiling for a box set (in which role it supersededthe book ceiling). A backcloth is suspended at therear of a scene while a frontcloth usually hangs far downstage,where it is often used to hide a scene change. A cloth was formerlycalled a drop in Britain and sometimes still goes by thisname in America.

Origin & History of “cloth”

The history of the word cloth is not known, beyond the fact that its immediate source is Germanic (German has the related kleid ‘garment’). In Old English it meant both ‘piece of fabric’ and ‘fabric in general’, and in the plural it was applied to ‘garments’ (hence modern English clothes). The verb clothe, too, probably goes back to Old English times, although it is not recorded before the 12th century.