mercerize, v. t. [From (John) Mercer (1791-1866), an English calico printer who introduced the process + -ize.].
To treat (cotton fiber or fabrics) with a solution of caustic alkali. Such treatment causes the fiber to shrink in length and become stronger and more receptive of dyes. If the yarn or cloth is kept under tension during the process, it assumes a silky luster. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]