When referring to something that is thoroughgoing or uncompromising, the phrase ‘dyed in the wool’ is the correct spelling. “Died in the wool” is incorrect and should not be used in written English. The word used to be an entire phrase but it is now in the dictionary as one hyphenated word.
Continue reading on to learn more about what dyed in the wool means, examples of how to use it in a sentence, the etymology of the word, and why it is not ‘died in the wool’.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the meaning of ‘dyed in the wool’ is thoroughgoing or uncompromising. The first known use of the phrase with this definition dates back to 1580.
When taken literally the phrase refers to the process of dying wool before it is spun into yarn. This process makes the color of the wool longer lasting and much more vivid than other methods of dyeing wool. In a figurative speech, dyed in the wool means that someone’s opinion is formed when they were very young, and those opinions are uncompromised into adulthood.
Etymology of Dyed in the Wool
While the dictionary dates the phrase ‘dyed in the wool’ back to 1580, the first known use of the phrase came about when writers started to discuss how children would retain beliefs into adulthood if they were taught them at a very young age.
The phrase began to have a political meaning beginning in the 19th century. Daniel Webster, an American democrat, and Fredrick Douglass both used the phrase to describe their political affiliations and beliefs. It is now commonly used to describe someone who is a strict adherent to a set of political or religious beliefs.
Examples of Using Dyed in the Wool
It is fairly simple to use dyed in the wool in a sentence. You can choose to either hyphenate the phrase or not, both are acceptable. Here are a few examples of how to use dyed in the wool in a sentence.
- Frederick Douglass was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican in 1870, which would have made him a Democrat today.
- He is an avid surfer, a dyed-in-the-wool water guy.
- Nancy Pelosi had to convince many people that she was a dyed-in-the-wool democrat when she ran for office in 2018.
- She is a dyed-in-the-wool Christian and you will find it difficult to convince her that she is wrong about religion.