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Definition of seersucker

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seer·suck·er  audio  (sîrskr) KEY 

A light thin fabric, generally cotton or rayon, with a crinkled surface and a usually striped pattern.

Hindi srsakar, from Persian shroshakar : shr, milk (from Middle Persian) + o, and (from Middle Persian u, from Old Persian ut) + shakar, sugar (from Sanskrit arkar, from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth surface of milk and bumpy texture of sugar)

Through its etymology, seersucker gives us a glimpse into the history of India. The word came into English from Hindi srsakar, which had been borrowed from the Persian compound shroshakar, meaning literally "milk and sugar" but used figuratively for a striped linen garment. The Persian word shakar, "sugar," in turn came from Sanskrit arkar. The linguistic borrowings here reflect a broader history of cultural borrowing. In the 6th century the Persians borrowed not only the word for sugar from India but sugar itself. During and after Tamerlane's invasion of India in the late 14th century, opportunities for borrowing Persian things and words such as shroshakar were widespread, since Tamerlane incorporated Persia as well as India into his empire. It then remained for the English to borrow from an Indian language the material and its name seersucker (first recorded in 1722 in the form Sea Sucker) during the 18th century, when the East India Company and England were moving toward imperial supremacy in India.

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