AskDefine | Define felt

Dictionary Definition



1 an intuitive awareness; "he has a feel for animals" or "it's easy when you get the feel of it";
2 the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people; "the feel of the city excited him"; "a clergyman improved the tone of the meeting"; "it had the smell of treason" [syn: spirit, tone, feeling, flavor, flavour, look, smell]
3 a property perceived by touch [syn: tactile property]
4 manual-genital stimulation for sexual pleasure; "the girls hated it when he tried to sneak a feel"


1 undergo an emotional sensation; "She felt resentful"; "He felt regret" [syn: experience]
2 come to believe on the basis of emotion, intuitions, or indefinite grounds; "I feel that he doesn't like me"; "I find him to be obnoxious"; "I found the movie rather entertaining" [syn: find]
3 perceive by a physical sensation, e.g., coming from the skin or muscles; "He felt the wind"; "She felt an object brushing her arm"; "He felt his flesh crawl"; "She felt the heat when she got out of the car" [syn: sense]
4 seem with respect to a given sensation given; "My cold is gone--I feel fine today"; "She felt tired after the long hike"
5 have a feeling or perception about oneself in reaction to someone's behavior or attitude; "She felt small and insignificant"; "You make me feel naked"; "I made the students feel different about themselves"
6 undergo passive experience of:"We felt the effects of inflation"; "her fingers felt their way through the string quartet"; "she felt his contempt of her"
7 be felt or perceived in a certain way; "The ground feels shaky"; "The sheets feel soft"
8 grope or feel in search of something; "He felt for his wallet"
9 examine by touch; "Feel this soft cloth!"; "The customer fingered the sweater" [syn: finger]
10 examine (a body part) by palpation; "The nurse palpated the patient's stomach"; "The runner felt her pulse" [syn: palpate]
11 find by testing or cautious exploration; "He felt his way around the dark room"
12 produce a certain impression; "It feels nice to be home again"
13 pass one's hands over the sexual organs of; "He felt the girl in the movie theater" [also: felt]felt n : a fabric made of compressed matted animal fibers


1 mat together and make felt-like; "felt the wool"
2 cover with felt; "felt a cap"
3 change texture so as to become matted and felt-like; "The fabric felted up after several washes" [syn: felt up, mat up, matt-up, matte up, matte, mat]felt See feel

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /fεlt/, /fElt/
  • Rhymes: -ɛlt

Etymology 1

felt; akin to Dutch vilt, German Filz, and possibly to Greek hair or wool wrought into felt, Latin pilus hair, pileus a felt cap or hat.


  1. A cloth or stuff made of matted fibres of wool, or wool and fur, fulled or wrought into a compact substance by rolling and pressure, with lees or size, without spinning or weaving.
    • It were a delicate stratagem to shoe A troop of horse with felt. — Shakespeare, King Lear, IV-vi
  2. A hat made of felt. — Thynne
  3. A skin or hide; a fell; a pelt.
  • To know whether sheep are sound or not, see that the felt be loose — Mortimer
cloth made of matted fibres of wool
hat made of felt
Related terms
  • felt grain: the grain of timber which is transverse to the annular rings or plates; the direction of the medullary rays in oak and some other timber. — Knight
  • felt-tip pen


  1. To make into felt, or a feltlike substance; to cause to adhere and mat together. — Sir M. Hale
  2. To cover with, or as with, felt; as, to felt the cylinder of a steam emgine.
make into felt
cover with felt

Etymology 2

See feel.


  1. past of feel




Derived terms



  1. field


  1. Past participle of felle

Extensive Definition

Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any color, and made into any shape or size.
Felt is the oldest form of fabric known to humankind. It predates weaving and knitting, although there is archaeological evidence from the British Museum that the first known thread was made by winding vegetable fibers on the thigh. In Turkey, the remains of felt have been found dating back at least to 6,500 BCE. Highly sophisticated felted artifacts were found preserved in permafrost in a tomb in Siberia and dated to 600 CE.
Many cultures have legends as to the origins of feltmaking. Sumerian legend claims that the secret of feltmaking was discovered by Urnamman of Lagash. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.
For a long time, the economy of what is now Canada was based on the fur trade, the hunting of beaver (and, to a lesser extent, other animals) for the felt industry in Europe. This led to a very basic colonization, organized by fur trade companies, until governmental measures were taken to ensure a real economic and demographic development.
Feltmaking is still practiced by nomadic peoples in Central Asia, where rugs, tents and clothing are regularly made. Some of these are traditional items, such as the classic yurt, while others are designed for the tourist market, such as decorated slippers. In the Western world, felt is widely used as a medium for expression in textile art as well as design, where it has significance as an ecological textile.


Felt is made by a process called wet felting, where the natural wool fiber is stimulated by friction and lubricated by moisture (usually soapy water), and the fibers move at a 90 degree angle towards the friction source and then away again, in effect making little "tacking" stitches. Only 5% of the fibers are active at any one moment, but the process is continual, and so different 'sets' of fibers become activated and then deactivated in the continual process.
This "wet" process utilizes the inherent nature of wool and other animal hairs, because the hairs have scales on them which are directional. The hairs also have kinks in them, and this combination of scales (like the structure of a pine cone) is what reacts to the stimulation of friction and causes the phenomenon of felting. It tends to work well only with woolen fibers as their scales, when aggravated, bond together to form a cloth.
Felting is done by a chemical process in industry. It is also done with special felting needles, which grab individual fibers and drag them against their neighbors, thereby binding them. Felting may also be done in a domestic washing machine on a hot cycle.
From the mid-17th to the mid-20th centuries, a process called "carroting" was used in the manufacture of good quality felt for making men's hats. Rabbit or hare skins were treated with a dilute solution of the mercury compound mercuric nitrate. The skins were dried in an oven when the thin fur at the sides went orange - carrot color. Pelts were stretched over a bar in a cutting machine and the skin sliced off in thin shreds, the fleece coming away entirely. The fur was blown onto a cone-shaped colander, treated with hot water to consolidate it, the cone peeled off and passed through wet rollers to cause the fur to felt. These 'hoods' were then dyed and blocked to make hats. This toxic solution and the vapors it produced resulted in widespread cases of mercury poisoning among hatters, which may have been the origin behind the phrase "mad as a hatter" and the name of the character of the the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. (The Mad Hatter's character was almost certainly based on someone who was not a hatter and did not exhibit signs of mercury poisoning.) The United States Public Health Service banned the use of mercury in the felt industry in December 1941.
Knitted woolen garments which shrink in a hot machine wash can be said to have felted, but have actually been "fulled". Felting differs from fulling in the sense that fulling is done to fabric whereas felting is done to fibers that are not in fabric form. Modern fulling is an example of how the fibers bond together when combined with the movement of the washing machine, the heat of the water, and the addition of soap.
Cheaper felt is usually artificial. Artificial felt, if made using the wet method, has a minimum of 30% of wool fibers combined with other artificial fibers. This is the minimum required to hold a fabric together with the fibers alone. It would be difficult to achieve a stable fabric by hand at this ratio. All other wholly artificial felts are actually needle-felts.
Loden is a type of felt originally worn in the Alpine regions, which has recently gained worldwide acceptance as a textile for fine and durable clothing.

Other uses of felt

Felt is used everywhere from the automotive industry, to children story telling, to musical instruments. It is often used as a dampner. In the automotive industry, for example, it dampens the vibrations between interior panels and also stops dirt entering into some ball/cup joints. A felt-covered board can be used in storytelling to small children. Small felt animals, people or other objects will adhere to a felt board, and in the process of telling the story, the storyteller also acts it out on the board with the animals or people. Puppets can also be made with felt. While a woven (not felted) fabric is less expensive and more commonly used, felt is used on professional or tournament billiards table to cover the slate surface. German artist Josef Beuys used felt in a number of works.
Many musical instruments use felt. On drum cymbal stands it protects the cymbal from cracking and ensures a clean sound. It is used to wrap bass drum and timpani mallets. Piano hammers are made of wool felt around a wooden core. The density and springiness of the felt is a major part of what creates a piano's tone. As the felt becomes grooved and "packed" with use and age, the tone suffers. Though the ukulele is most commonly plucked, the pick, or plectrum, is made of felt.
Needle felting is a popular fiber arts craft conducted without the use of water. Special barbed felting needles that are used in industrial felting machines are used by the artist as a sculpting tool. Using a single needle or a small group of needles (2-5) in a hand held tool, these needles are used to sculpt the wool fiber. The barbs catch the scales on the fiber and push them through the layers of wool tangling them and binding them together much like the wet felting process. Fine details can be achieved using this technique and it is popular for 3D felted work.


External links

felt in Arabic: لباد
felt in Bulgarian: Филц
felt in Turkish: Keçe
felt in Czech: Plst
felt in Russian: Войлок
felt in Danish: Filt
felt in German: Filz
felt in Estonian: Vilt
felt in Spanish: Fieltro
felt in Esperanto: Felto
felt in French: Feutre (textile)
felt in Hebrew: לבד
felt in Hungarian: Nemez
felt in Italian: Feltro
felt in Dutch: Vilt (textiel)
felt in Japanese: フェルト
felt in Norwegian: Filt
felt in Polish: Filc
felt in Portuguese: Feltro
felt in Simple English: Felt
felt in Finnish: Huopa
felt in Swedish: Filt (material)
felt in Chinese: 氈

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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