Clarissa's Blog

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English Speakers, Help! 

So do you know how when you wear a sweater for a while, tiny balls of wool are formed all over the sleeves? And they make the sweater look worn and untidy?

Please, folks, what do you call these teensy knots of wool in English? Or the process by which they are formed. 


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14 thoughts on “English Speakers, Help! 

  1. raddledoldtart on said:

    Bobbles, and the process would be bobbling.


  2. Shakti on said:

    Oh, your sweater is pilling and accumulating sweater pills.


  3. I don’t think there’s a unified answer, this is the sort of thing that will vary by country (and/or region).

    I think bobbling is British (I rememer hearing it on british tv and only understanding through context)

    I’d call them lint balls (and maybe call the process balling up) but I’m not really from sweater country…


  4. The Dark Avenger on said:

    There are many names for the tiny balls of fiber that sometimes appear on clothes. Pills, bobbles, lint balls, fuzz-balls are just a few of them. The pills give a rough texture to an otherwise smooth fabric.

    The cause of these lint bobbles can be puzzling, and some items of clothing are affected more than others. They occur during washing or where a piece of clothing is subjected to friction. For example, under the arms or on the spot where a seatbelt crosses the chest.

    Most people agree that fuzz-balls are ugly. They make an otherwise fashionable sweater look old and scruffy. So you can either try and remove them, or better still, prevent them from happening in the first place.

    Also, the piles of dust and debris under furniture are know as dust bunnies.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AnonP on said:

    As everyone said, bobbles and the sweater is pilling. You can also buy a shaver to remove them:


  6. American English calls them pills, and the process of making them is pilling.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sugs on said:

    More interesting than I thought; I’m from the UK and I’ve always known the process as pilling, and the things are pills or bobbles, while I never heard the word ‘lint’ used in UK English, it sounds very American to me. Maybe it’s a generation thing.

    As for how to remove the pills, I’d love to hear of a reliable method!


    • I thought that lint is different in that it’s detached. While these little bobbles are attached.


      • For me lint can be attached or not, though for most American English users it’s primarily what gets caught in the screen-like filter in the washing machine. It can also collect in the belly buttons of some people.


        • Sugs on said:

          Lint sounds like the US word for what we Brits call fluff – in pockets, dryer filters and belly buttons! Lint is also a loose linen fibre product once used in wound dressings.


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