[AS., from L. sericum, silk.] Fine threads spun by silk-worms, but especially the Bombyx mori. The silk-worm was first kept in China for the purpose of manufacturing silk. From silk-worms' eggs, in about a fortnight, little caterpillars two inches long and light colored come out; these must be fed with mulberry (q-v.) or lettuce leaves. In about a month the caterpillars reach their full size, and inside their bodies is a sticky substance which they convert into silk. From two little holes in its head each caterpillar draws out flossy threads of the sticky matter, and twists them together by means of a gum, winding them round and round its body until it is enveloped in a ball of silk, called a cocoon, which is about as large as a grape or a pigeon's egg. The cocoons from which silk is to be obtained are heated in an oven, and the inner balls are thrown into warm water, so as to melt the gum ; after which the silk from them is wound upon reels, and then made up into hanks. It is then known as raw silk. The thread of a single cocoon generally measures about 600 yards, but some cocoons have measured 1,200 yards. The silk fibre is sent to the factories, or silk-mills, as they are called, where it passes through the processes of winding, cleaning, twisting, weaving, dyeing, and finishing. Silk is made into silk for dresses, satin, velvet, ribbon, sarcenet, stockings, fringes, buttons, gloves.