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Sailors who have to endure pea-soup weather often don their pea coats...but the coat's name isn't derived from the weather.
The heavy topcoat worn in cold, miserable weather by seafaring men was once tailored from pilot cloth — a heavy, course, stout kind of twilled blue cloth with the nap on one side. The cloth was sometimes called P-cloth for the initial letter of "pilot" and the garment made from it was called a p-jacket — later, a pea coat. The term has been used since 1723 to denote coats made from that cloth.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|