My daughter asked about this one as she was cutting up some paper doilies for valentines she was making. It was a quick answer, but one I’d certainly never investigated before, so I thought I’d share.
So doily as we know it is a shortening of doily-napkin, and dates from 1714. It refers to the light, lacy item made from doily–a thin, woolen fabric. It’s supposedly named for a dry-goods dealer in London. The surname comes from Normandy, and before it was specific to thin, lightweight woolens, it was used to mean “genteel and affordable woolens.” So whoever the Doily [d’Oilly] family was, they apparently carried textiles worthy of fame!
Now, stay tuned! Tomorrow I’ll be participating in a fun scavenger hunt to kick off the release of The Lost Girl of Astor Street!