Corduroy is a fabric distinguished by vertical piles or rows. These rows are also called "cords". The name itself comes from the French term "Corde du roi" or the King's Cord. Despite the name, corduroy was never a kingly fabric. It is weaved in a fashion similar to velvet but it is weaved from cotton and not silk. The origin of the name is a bit mysterious. Corduroy like fabric has existed for thousands of years before it came to acquire the name. It was being used and manufactured in 200 AD in Egypt, in a city called Fustat.

In the 17th century French royalty began to cloth their servants in a fine but durable corduroy fabric. The short answer regarding corduroy's etymology is this. Corde du roi got munged into corduroy. However, it's not that simple. No record can be found to indicate French people actually referred to it as "Corde du roi" or any sort of derivation. However, the term was in use in England. It's theorized English weavers likened their cord fabric to the clothing of the French king's livery and dubbed their weave corduroy.

Before being known as corduroy, the fabric was frequently known as "fustian", named after the Egyptian town where it originated (Fustat = Fustian). In much the same way a corduroy suit is only considered finery by the person wearing such a horror, people wearing fustian clothes during Shakespeare's time were considered dressed in a tacky manner. Fustian became a synonym for bombastic and pretentious.