Terminology: What is scroop?

This week I thought I would do a fun little terminology post, and when your term is scroop, there is no way you can’t have fun!

What is scroop?  Scroop is the sound that taffeta makes.

Really.

Yes, it is an actual, proper, technical textile term (not like all those costuming collective nouns that we came up with).

Both silk and rayon taffetas (and some other silk and rayon fabrics) can have scroop, but it’s not caused by the weave, or the quality of the fabric.  Scroop is added with a special acid treatment, which hardens the fibres of the fabric, making them rustle more.

An early article on synthetic silk (rayon) mentions that it is shinier than real silk, but that its scroop is less.

Imagine the scroop of this dress:

Evening dress Madame Grès, silk, 1969, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Want to know the best thing about scroop?  It has an even more awesome synonym – froufrou!

 

(bonus best thing – there was a British peer names Scroop Egerton, he was the Viscount of Brackley and then the Earl of Bridgewater)

Sources:

Cant, Jennifer and Fritz, Anne, Consumer Textiles.  Melbourne: Oxford University Press.  1988

Online Encyclopedia Britannica

19 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Miss Joie de Vivre says:

    That is awesome! Possibly your best terminology post to date. What fascinates me is that frou frou is now also used to mean ruffles and flounces and sticky out bits, although I don’t know the comparative age of that definition. I wonder if that is because ruffles and flounces and sticky out bits helped make more noise?

  2. Kathy P says:

    So, frou-frou is a sound rather than a type of design? I’ve always heard it applied as an adjective for things with too much decoration, especially puffy laces, ruffles and “stuff” (another tech term ;) ) I guess it must be a language shift thing.
    I love these term posts. I always learn something new and interesting from them.

  3. Lynne says:

    :-) Love the word! The Madame Gres dress brings on an Abba moment – it’s a ‘super-scrooper’! :-)

    • Lynne says:

      I always thought that it was “a susurration of silk”. So Googled the phrase. Gosh. Seems to have entered the realms of purple prose of the romantic sort. As in “… pew-side seat at the coronation of George IV, as 2,000 elite rise to greet him “”with a susurration of silk sliding against silk and the faintest sound of plumes.” At least no-one is sliding their silks off in this piece! ‘The faintest sound of plumes’! Really!! (Sorry, I know this blog does not countenence multiple screamers.)

      • Elise says:

        It means to whisper (more or less similar pronunciation) in French and Spanish. I love it. Chiffon is made to whisper.

        But taffeta does not ‘scroop’! It is far to staid and dignified. Corduroy scroops. :)

    • Lynne says:

      I thought I’d ask the Oxford about this great word. It first cites it in 1859 as a ‘harsh, strident, or scraping noise’. “This man could mimic every word and scroop and shout that might be supposed proper to such a scene (the pulling of teeth).” ‘Household Words’. The secondary meaning as ‘the rustling sound and crisp feel associated especially with silk but capable of being imparted to other fabrics by special treatment’ is first cited in 1892 – G.H.Hurst ‘Silk Dyeing’. “Dilute mineral acids have no appreciable action on silk, but they have the property of imparting to it a peculiar ‘scroop’ or crackle.”
      Thought: I wonder how much this acid treatment contributed to the long term ‘shattering’ of silks that we see?

  4. Chris D. says:

    Best vocabulary word ever!

  5. Stef says:

    Brilliant! I am going to go out and just say “scroop” a lot. Scroop scroop scroop!

    Hope you are showing some scrupulous scroop! And have told Scroobius Pip, whom in turn takes his nom de plume from a poem called The Scroobious Pip! Scroop scroop! :D

    (OK, this coffee might well be a little too strong)

  6. Claire Payne says:

    Oh please tell us more about froufrou. My friend uses this term to mean frilly or elaborate finishes or embelishments on garments so I wish to use ‘froufrou’ in the correct way.

  7. prttynpnk says:

    Wow- I love that, and it makes me giggle- so if my dachshunds run across my ballgown, knocking it to the floor is that ‘scroop doggy dogg’?

  8. Sabine says:

    So “scroop” is the rustling sound when you move around in a silk garment, right?!
    I ask, because there’s another sound, when you thoroughly knead a bunch of silk with your hands (be it spun silk yarn or fabric doesn’t matter), it sounds like walking through harsh/bit icy snow. I love that sound!
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article!

    • Sabine says:

      It’s me again – I looked the term up in the dictionary and “scroop” in German means “Seidenschrei” (silk’s cry). The “Seidenschrei” is described as the sound if you squeeze or knead silk and get that sounds like walking in the snow. I’ve never heard the term “Seidenschrei” before, so thanks again for sharing “scroop” in your post! Love it!

  9. Demented Seamstress says:

    What a fun word!
    If only there were more ways to work it into everyday conversation.
    Scroop. Scroop, scroop. Scroop! It’s almost as fun to say as spatterdashes.
    (This poor, simple minded spell checker has underlined both of these wonderful words in red).

    I had no idea there was a proper word for the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain. It is such a lovely sound.

    Hmm, now that I’ve brought up The Raven I’m not sure this word is perfect for everything involving silk. “The scroop of each purple curtain” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

    Still a marvelously fun word for all non serious poems. And for dresses that kind of look like doggie doo bags. Rather unfortunate colour choice, don’t you think?

  10. Isis says:

    I don’t know if this was the word used as I read the Swedish translation, but in one of teh Oz-books, Dorothy meats a man who sells tha sound a taffeta skirt makes. He gives her a box taht will give her plain cotton petticoats and wonderful rustle. :)

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