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  • More commonly spelled osnaburg, but also osnabrig, oznaburg, etc. (I chose this spelling because that's how it's spelled in the primary source I copied the list from.) A heavy, coarse cloth. In eighteenth-century America, it was used mostly for rough work clothing, such as that worn by laborers, soldiers, and enslaved people.

    Captured at Yorktown: "71 and a half yards oznabrigs, damaged." This was listed separately from red cloth, red flannel, blue cloth, white cloth, and linen.

    October 29, 2007

  • Neat word! Any clues about its origins?

    October 29, 2007

  • Yeah, I think it's from the Austrian town of Osnabrück. It might have more details in one of the dictionaries. Signed, too lazy to click on a link.

    October 29, 2007

  • Update: The OED's listing for osnaburg:

    n. As a mass noun: a kind of coarse linen (and later cotton) cloth originally made at Osnabrück, used esp. for making rough hard-wearing clothing, or for furnishings, sacks, tents, etc. As a count noun (usu. in pl., sometimes treated as sing.): a quantity of this; (also) an item or items made of such cloth, esp. (formerly) clothing given to servants or slaves.

    October 29, 2007

  • Oops. Sorry. Should have checked the other spellings.

    October 29, 2007

  • Another usage/discussion on Negro cloth.

    September 26, 2009