Why: In the song "School Days," which I think I learned in 1st grade (with these lyrics, which are apparently not all correct):
School days, school daysAnswer: a. A coarse, brightly printed cloth. b. Chiefly British. A plain white cotton cloth, heavier than muslin.
Dear old Golden Rule days
Reading and writing and 'rithmetic
Talk to the tune of the hick'ry stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful barefoot beau
And you wrote on my slate
"I love you so"
When we were a couple of kids
It has different meanings according to which country the word is used in. Originally calico was a plain-woven textile which originated in the city of Kozhikode, Kerala, India, which was known by Europeans as Calicut, in the 11th century. The fabric was made by the traditional weavers called chaliyans.
In North America, the word "calico" refers to inexpensive printed cotton fabrics with a small, allover pattern, often floral.
(The purple one is from a site called The King's Daughters that sells handmade "modesty clothing," including bonnets and pantaloons. Ctm.)The fabric that is called calico in the UK is called muslin in the USA.
Source: Answers.com, Wikipedia
The More You Know: The colorful, small-patterned printed fabrics are what gave rise to the use of the word calico in the name of the calico cat and the calico crab.
are female, btw, and most ginger / orange cats are male.