AskDefine | Define velcro

Dictionary Definition

Velcro n : nylon fabric used as a fastening v : fasten with velcro; "velcro the belt"

User Contributed Dictionary



from French velour a velvet-like fabric, and crochet "hook"


  1. A trademarked name for a fastener consisting of two strips of fabric, one covered with minute fiber hooks and the other of tiny fiber loops, which when brought together stick strongly one to the other.



  1. Having this trademarked fastening process.


to velcro
  1. to close tight with this trademarked fastening process.

Extensive Definition

Velcro is a brand name of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners. It consists of two layers: a "hook" side, which is a piece of fabric covered with tiny hooks, and a "loop" side, which is covered with even smaller and "hairier" loops. When the two sides are pressed together, the hooks catch in the loops and hold the pieces together. When the layers are separated, the strips make a characteristic "ripping" sound.
Velcro can be made of many things- the first sample was made of cotton, which was proved impractical, who lived in Commugny, Switzerland.
The idea came to him one day after returning from a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps. He took a close look at the burrs (seeds) of burdock that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog's fur. He examined them under a microscope, and noted their hundreds of "hooks" that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. He saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in a simple fashion, Nylon had only recently been invented, and through trial and error he eventually discovered that, when sewn under hot infrared light, nylon forms hooks that were perfect for the hook side of the fastener.

Genericized trademark

The Velcro brand is an example of a genericized trademark—a brand name that has become the generic term for a type of product. The Velcro company has forbidden its employees to use the term 'velcro', in an effort to stop this. Instead the employees must use the generic terms "hook and loop fastener", "hook tape", or "loop tape". The company is very protective, and has said:
"Velcro is the name of our companies and is a registered trademark for our products. It is not the generic name of the product that fastens shoes, pockets, and hundreds of other things. That product is generically known as 'hook-and-loop fastener' or 'touch fasteners'."
Instead they refer to their product as 'the Velcro brand hook-and-loop fastener'.
Besides being used as a generic term for hook and loop fasteners, the word 'velcro' has also become a verb, as in 'velcroed', which means to be attached by velcro. It has been used as such since approximately 1972. A velcro patch is used inside astronauts' helmets where it serves as a nose scratcher.
The US Army is another big user. It uses hook and loop fasteners on combat uniforms to attach name tapes, rank insignia, shoulder pockets for unit patches, skill tabs, and recognition devices, such as the infrared (IR) feedback American flag. They also had the Velcro company create a silent version of Velcro for use with Army soldier uniforms, as the ripping sound could betray the soldier's position. A new version was created which reduced the noise by over 95%. The manufacturing process to create this noiseless velcro is, however, a military secret. The wall is inflated, and looks similar to other inflatable structures. It is not necessarily completely covered in velcro-often there will be vertical strips of velcro. Sometimes, instead of a running jump, people use a small trampoline.
David Letterman immortalized this during the Feb 28, 1984 episode of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC. David Letterman proved that with enough velcro a man could be hurled against a wall and stick, by performing this feat himself on TV. Jeremy Bayliss and Graeme Smith of the Cri Bar and Grill in Napier, New Zealand, started it after seeing American astronauts velcroed to walls during space flights. They created their own equipment for the "human fly" contests, and sold it to several others in New Zealand. Duffy then created a wraparound cast made from a single plastic sheet sealed with his fasteners to replace similar removable casts with velcro straps. His sister-in-law had a removable cast with velcro strips, and complained about the velcro because it absorbed perspiration and thus smelled, as well as catching on her clothing. Velcro has become part of a recurring joke in various media in which it is claimed that modern humans would be unable to invent it, and that it is in fact a form of advanced technology. For example, K claims in Men in Black that Velcro was originally alien technology, and part of the plot of the 2002 Star Trek Enterprise episode "Carbon Creek", features Velcro as being given to modern society by crash-landed Vulcans in 1957. (Also one of the Vulcan characters in this episode was named Mestral in tribute to the name of Velcro's real-life inventor, George de Mestral.) More recently one of the characters in the 2004 film Garden State made a vast fortune from inventing silent velcro. That velcro has entered popular culture is also evidenced by its use as a verb, as in "he velcroed his shoes" meaning to fasten with velcro.


External links

velcro in Afrikaans: Velcro
velcro in Bulgarian: Велкро
velcro in Catalan: Velcro
velcro in Czech: Suchý zip
velcro in German: Klettverschluss
velcro in Spanish: Velcro
velcro in Esperanto: Lapfermilo
velcro in French: Velcro
velcro in Italian: Velcro
velcro in Hebrew: צמדן
velcro in Lithuanian: Lipukai
velcro in Malayalam: വെല്‍ക്രോ
velcro in Dutch: Klittenband
velcro in Japanese: 面ファスナー
velcro in Polish: Velcro
velcro in Portuguese: Velcro
velcro in Russian: Застёжка-липучка
velcro in Finnish: Tarranauha
velcro in Swedish: Kardborrband
velcro in Thai: เวลโคร
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