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From Middle English drab (“color of undyed cloth”), from Middle French drap (“cloth”), from Late Latin drappus (“drabcloth, kerchief”) (6th century, Vita Caesaris Arelatis), from Gaulish *drappo, from Proto-Indo-European *drep- (“to scratch, tear”) (compare Old Norse trof (“fringes”), trefja (“to rub, wear out”), Lithuanian drãpanos (“household linens”), Serbo-Croatian drápati (“to scratch, scrape”), Ancient Greek ????? (drép?, “to pluck”), Avestan ?????? (drafša, “flag, banner”), Sanskrit ?????? (dr?pí, “mantle, gown”)).
drab (countable and uncountable, plural drabs)
- A fabric, usually of thick wool or cotton, having a drab colour.
- The colour of this fabric; a dun, dull grey, or dull brownish yellow.
Origin uncertain. Compare Middle English drablen, drabelen (“to soil; make dirty”), Low German drabbeln (“to soil”), Old Norse drabba (“to make drab; make dirty”). Compare also Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag (“dirty woman”).
drab (plural drabs)
- (dated) A dirty or untidy woman; a slattern.
- (dated) A promiscuous woman, a slut; a prostitute.
- A box used in a saltworks for holding the salt when taken out of the boiling pans.
- (obsolete) To consort with prostitutes.
Probably related to drop.
- A small amount.