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I came across the word "musset" in Gregory Maguire's Wicked--

Her green traveling gown with its inset panels of ochre musset suggested wealth, while the black shawl draping just so about the shoulders was a nod to her academic inclinations. (p. 84 in my edition)

Does anyone know what exactly the word refers to? It plainly has something to do with clothing, but what in particular? Is it just an invented word? It's not in the OED, and my Google searches led to naught, but I'm wondering if it might be a recondite technical term for something.

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  • 4
    Sounds like it should to be a type of fabric or fur, perhaps. Jul 5 at 14:52
  • 2
    Please note that the answer you have accepted does not give any support for the claim made; the product 'Musset' (alongside 'Ruskin', 'Shelley' ...) is obviously a brand name, reflecting a famous literary figure, chosen long after the lower-cased usage appeared. Jul 5 at 16:08
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    It could be "russet", which is a material, although it does not suggest wealth - quite the reverse. However, as there is no trace of this "musset" material, I suspect that this is an OCR error.
    – Greybeard
    Jul 5 at 16:16
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    I note that Maguire's Out of Oz (2011) has this instance of musset: "Somewhat to her [Glinda's] surprise, when she descended the stairs in her wine-colored summer cloak with the musset panels, the front doors were open and the Menacier from the banquet hall was waiting." The spelling thus seems to be intentional.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jul 5 at 19:09
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    @GArthurBrown I just click on the dates listed and skim through the results. If I’m puzzled I go to the document, confirming, e.g., that “Ihr müsset” is part of a German phrase used in the text. People who use Ngram regularly know that it produces many false positives, OCR errors, and errors in publication dates.
    – Xanne
    Jul 5 at 22:03
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The word musset was invented by the author (Gregory Maguire).

Having replicated the OP's lack of success in finding any online definition of the word, I acted on a whim and sent an email to ask him. He very kindly replied a few hours later with:

Ah, you have found one of my invented words, employed to make the world of Oz that little bit more unfamiliar than we expect.

I imagine it to be somewhat velvety, but what do I know?

Sorry to have given you an exercise that ended in — author trickery!

Cheers,

Gregory Maguire

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  • Aww, he types personal emails with capital letters and even em dashes. What a swell guy. And thank you for doing that for us, TH.
    – lly
    Jul 8 at 15:55
  • Doesn't it need a certain currency before it can be termed a 'word' (as 'hobbit', 'muggle' have certainly become)? Perhaps this will give it the necessary advertising. Jul 8 at 18:07
  • @EdwinAshworth Even though I cannot believe how many votes my answer has attracted, I think it will need much more than one question-and-answer to do that! (For reference, the OED's process for new words is here).
    – TripeHound
    Jul 8 at 20:25
  • A screenshot might be nice, otherwise there is nothing here but your word you interacted with a famous author. Jul 11 at 12:14
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    @GArthurBrown I could add one, sure, but I'm not convinced it would carry any weight as it would be trivial to fake.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 11 at 13:16

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