Out of whole cloth

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Out of whole cloth is an American idiom that entered the English language in the early 1800s. We will examine the phrase out of whole cloth, the correct grammatical use of the term and some examples of its use in sentences.

Out of whole cloth describes something that is untrue and has no grounding in the facts. The expression is generally used in the phrases made out of whole cloth, make out of whole cloth, makes out of whole cloth, making out of whole cloth. Whole cloth is a piece of fabric that has not been cut into pieces. The literal meaning of the term whole cloth goes back to the 1400s, but the idiomatic expressions pertaining to whole cloth first appeared in America in the early 1800s. The idea behind the meaning of the phrase out of whole cloth is that a lie is a completely new fabrication, as is a piece of whole cloth.


I made a promise the day I resigned, having been the brunt of seven months of unbelievable media attacks and constant palace intrigue stories that were in most cases manufactured out of whole cloth, I’m not going to fuel further palace intrigue stories. (The Los Angeles Times)

Other times they have invented crises out of whole cloth, such as the “health care crisis” that no one considered a crisis until Barack Obama insisted they must and the “immigration crisis” as a euphemism to refer, not to the massive annual influx of illegal aliens into the country, but rather to the dubious legal status of those individuals already here. (The Canada Free Press)