Difference Between Fleece and Wool

Main Difference – Fleece vs Wool

The two words fleece and wool refer to different stages in the production of wool. The main difference between fleece and wool is that fleece refers to the coat of wool covering a wool-bearing animal whereas wool refers to the material that is obtained after shearing the fleece and preparing it for making cloth or yarn. However, this is not the only difference between fleece and wool. The meanings of these two words tend to differ according to different contexts.

In this article, we’ll look at,

1. What is Fleece? – The Meaning and Usage of the word Fleece

2. What is Wool? – The Meaning and Usage of the word Wool

3. What is the Difference Between Fleece and WoolDifference Between Fleece and Wool - Fleece vs Wool Comparison Summary

What is Wool? – Meaning and Usage

As mentioned above, wool can have different meanings, depending on the context. So, we’ll look at these different meanings in this article. The Oxford dictionary defines wool as the “fine, soft curly or wavy hair forming the coat of a sheep, goat, or similar animal, especially when shorn and prepared for use in making cloth or yarn”. By this definition, wool is obtained after shearing the fleece. However, American Heritage Dictionary defines wool as “the dense, soft, often curly hair forming the coat of sheep and certain other mammals, such as the goat and alpaca, consisting of cylindrical strands of keratin-covered by minute overlapping scales and much valued as a textile fiber.” The word wool also refers to yarn or textile fibre made from wool.

Difference Between Fleece and Wool

What is Fleece? – Meaning and Usage

The word fleece also has multiple meanings. Fleece can refer to the coat of wool covering a wool-bearing animal such as a sheep. It can also refer to the wool obtained from a sheep at one shearing. However, we don’t use the word fleece to refer to wool that has been processed. Neither do we use it to refer to the textile fibre made from wool.

However, fleece can also refer to a type of fabric. Polar fleece is the more accepted term for this fabric. This is soft and warm fabric with a texture similar to wool. It is made from a type of polyester and can be used as a vegan alternative to wool.

Main Difference - Fleece vs Wool

Difference Between Fleece and Wool


Fleece is a synthetic fabric made from polyethylene terephthalate.

Wool is a textile fiber obtained from woolen animals. Examples include cashmere, mohair, angora, etc.

Fleece can be used as a vegan substitute for wool since fleece also has many qualities and properties of wool.

Fur of the Animal:

Fleece refers to the woolen coat of an animal.

Wool can refer to fleece which is shorn and prepared for use in making cloth.

However, in general usage, wool can be used interchangeably with fleece to refer to the woollen coat of animals.

Image Courtesy:

“CSIRO ScienceImage 11160 Siroscour” By CSIRO, via

“White Welsh Mountain sheep” By Vertigogen – woolly sheep via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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