Flax (?), n. [AS. fleax; akin to D. vlas, OHG. flahs, G. flachs, and prob. to flechten to braid, plait,m twist, L. plectere to weave, plicare to fold, Gr. to weave, plait. See Ply.]
A plant of the genus Linum, esp. the L. usitatissimum, which has a single, slender stalk, about a foot and a half high, with blue flowers. The fiber of the bark is used for making thread and cloth, called linen, cambric, lawn, lace, etc. Linseed oil is expressed from the seed.
The skin or fibrous part of the flax plant, when broken and cleaned by hatcheling or combing.
Earth flax Min., amianthus. -- Flax brake, a machine for removing the woody portion of flax from the fibrous. -- Flax comb, a hatchel, hackle, or heckle. -- Flax cotton, the fiber of flax, reduced by steeping in bicarbinate of soda and acidulated liquids, and prepared for bleaching and spinning like cotton. Knight. -- Flax dresser, one who breaks and swingles flax, or prepares it for the spinner. -- Flax mill, a mill or factory where flax is spun or linen manufactured. -- Flax puller, a machine for pulling flax plants in the field. -- Flax wench. (a) A woman who spins flax. [Obs.] (b) A prostitute. [Obs.] Shak. -- Mountain flax Min., amianthus. -- New Zealand flax Bot. See Flax-plant.
© Webster 1913.