• A strong linen or cotton fabric with a rough surface, used for toweling.

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Example Sentences

“The maritime museum had samples of the original huckaback fabric used for both sailcloth and hammocks.”

“Instead of paper towels, I keep a stash of huckaback towels for easy cleanup in the garage.”

“Even though the towels were huckaback, the embroidered design made them a perfect wedding gift.”

Word Origin

Unknown, late 17th century

Why this word?

Some lexicographers have linked this to a similar German phrase, “huckepack tragen” (meaning “to carry a child on the back”), but the definition of “huckaback” (“a strong, rough fabric”) is so different that there’s likely no tie between the words. While the origin of the name for the fabric is unknown, the textile came into use in the late 17th century, and the distinctive feature is an alternating weft pattern, which is the crosswise threads used to weave fabric. While it’s a traditional method used to weave rough, nubby toweling, huckaback is still widely available in kitchen linens and cleaning towels. If you have a stack of blue or red rags in the garage, those are huckaback.

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