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Porcelain

(3 syl.), from porcelana, “a little pig.” So called by the Portuguese traders, from its resemblance to cowrie-shells, the shape of which is not unlike a pig's back. The Chinese earthenware being white and glossy, like the inside of the shells, suggested the application of the name. (See Marryatt's History of Pottery and Porcelain.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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