Corduroy is a textile composed of twisted fibers that, when woven, lie parallel (similar to twill) to one another to form the cloth's distinct pattern, a "cord." Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. The word "corduroy" can be used as a noun, a transitive verb, or an adjective. Corduroy is, in essence, a ridged form of velvet.
While the word "corduroy" would seem to have French origins, potentially derived from "corde du roi" (roughly translated as "cloth/cord of the king"), the phrase "corde du roi" is not French. In fact, an 1807 French list of manufactured articles includes an entry for "kings-cordes," apparently taken from English. Corduroy is believed to have been first produced in Manchester England, the world's first industrial city. Manchester was referred to as Cottonopolis because of the large number of cotton spinning mills located there.
As a fabric, corduroy is considered a durable cloth. Socially speaking, the clothes made from corduroy are considered casual, and are usually favored in colder climates. Corduroy is most commonly found in the construction of trousers. The material is also used in the construction of (sport) jackets and shirts. The width of the cord is commonly referred to as the size of the "wale". The lower the "wale" number, the thicker the width of the wale (i.e., 4-wale is much thicker than 11-wale). Wide wale is more commonly found on trousers; medium, narrow, and fine wale fabrics are usually found in garments used above the waist.