How Did Duffel Bags Get Their Name?

Many credit American poet E. E. Cummings with coining the term duffel bag (sometimes spelled duffle bag). Cummings served as an ambulance driver in France during WWI, and in a letter that he wrote, he mentioned that he "...had a duffle-bag, chuck full." The fabric used to make that bag was a heavy-duty woolen cloth created in the Belgian town of Duffel.

More facts about duffel bags:

  • Many militaries issue duffel bags to their servicepeople, who may also refer to them as ditty bags, kit bags, or seabags. Outside of a military context, people in the United States often refer to duffel bags as gym bags.

  • Duffel, Belgium began its textile industry in the 1400s.

  • The duffle coat got its name because it was made from the same material as duffel bags, although the coats themselves were never made in Belgium.

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