Cut Out of Whole Cloth

Also: Made out of Whole Cloth

Used as an idiom since the 1800’s.

Meaning of ‘Cut out of Whole Cloth’ Idiom

When something is cut out of whole cloth it is completely made up or invented. In other words, this idiom refers to total fabrication or complete fiction.


Often used as “made out of whole cloth” or “made up out of whole cloth.” Made up reflects the literal meaning of the idiom with another idiom, as in ‘he made up a lie.’

“The candidate claimed the article about his wrongdoings was cut out of whole cloth and completely untrue.”

“You know as well as I do those projections are cut out of whole cloth.”


According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, the expression “cut out of whole cloth” comes from an original 15th-century expression which referred to garments or other goods fabricated from cloth that ran the full length of the loom. In other words, the garments were cut out of one continuous piece of cloth.

By the 1800’s, it became common for tailors to claim that their garments were ‘cut out of whole cloth’ when, in reality, they were made from multiple smaller pieces of cloth. So, their advertising slogans saying that their clothing was “cut out of whole cloth” became and expression used to describe something that was false or made up.

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