The word gauze was first used in the English language in a 1561 inventory of the Royal Wardrobe, when it was spelled gais. After a two hundred year period of it being written as either gadze or gawze, gauze became the standard, and usage peaked during World War I (and then again a little bit during World War II). The term comes from French gaze, which has an uncertain etymology. One theory is that it comes from Arabic qazz, meaning "silk" and coming from Persian and Middle Persian kaz, with the same definition. That in turn might be from Arabic qazza, meaning "cotton-seed". Another possibility is that gauze was named after the Israeli/Palestinian city of Gaza, which was traditionally associated with silk production. That would make the word come from Hebrew az, meaning "strength".
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.