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staple

Short lengths of fiber, measured in inches or fractions of inches, like those naturally found in cotton and wool. These short lengths must be spun to obtain a length sufficient for weaving or knitting. Silk is the only natural fiber that does not come in staple lengths, but instead in filament lengths. Man-made fibers often are cut into staple lengths for spinning to imitate natural fibers. See spinning, filament, and spun fiber yarn.