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What does Jean mean?

A type of pants garment. It is thought that the word jean is derived from the word ‘genes’, which was a French word used to describe the type of pants worn by sailors from the city of Genoa. Historically, the term jean described a style of pants made from denim material with five pockets (two in the front and back with a small change pocket in the front) but now refers to a style of many different fabrics including corduroy and twill.

Heddels explains Jean

Originating in Chieri, Italy, jean was a type of fabric made from a blend of cotton and wool or linen, and was used by Genoese sailors to create pants. It differed from denim in that denim had an indigo warp and a white weft, while jean was woven completely out of one color of yarn. In addition, while both were sturdy fabrics, denim was more comfortable and durable.

When denim and jean travelled to the United States, denim became a material used for working wear such as overalls and dungarees, while jean became a more upscale fabric used for frockcoats, trousers, and vests in a variety of colors. Despite the similarity in names, modern jeans are not actually made of jean but of denim.

Additional Resources

Here is an example of jean:

Heddels Definition - Jean