A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibres together (felt).
The words fabric and cloth are used in textile assembly trades (such as tailoring and dressmaking) as synonyms for textile. However, there are subtle differences in these terms in specialized usage.
Textile refers to any material made of interlacing fibres. Fabric refers to any material made through weaving, knitting, spreading, crocheting, or bonding that may be used in production of further goods (garments, etc.). Cloth may be used synonymously with fabric but often refers to a finished piece of fabric used for a specific purpose (e.g., table cloth).
The word ‘textile’ is from Latin, from the adjective textilis, meaning ‘woven’, from textus, the past participle of the verb texere, ‘to weave’.
The word ‘fabric’ also derives from Latin, most recently from the Middle French fabrique, or ‘building, thing made’, and earlier as the Latin fabrica ‘workshop; an art, trade; a skillful production, structure, fabric’, which is from the Latin faber, or ‘artisan who works in hard materials’, from PIE dhabh-, meaning ‘to fit together’.
The word ‘cloth’ derives from the Old English clað, meaning a cloth, woven or felted material to wrap around one, from Proto-Germanic kalithaz (compare O.Frisian ‘klath’, Middle Dutch ‘cleet’, Dutch ‘kleed’, Middle High German ‘kleit’, and German ‘kleid’, all meaning “garment”). There are several different types of fabric from two main sources: manmade and natural. Inside natural, there are two others, plant and animal. Some examples of animal textiles are silk and wool. An example of a plant textile is cotton.