I don't know about you, but to me this is a pretty obscure word. Nevertheless, when the same word comes up twice in the same day, I take heed. First I read it in a mystery novel, and then I heard it in a play. Now from the book, I took it to mean the ruffle around the bottom of a bed, and from the play I think it had to do with some sort flounce around the bottom of a pelise (not that the word pelise was all that familiar--I kept thinking they were saying "police", so I was quite confused by lines that sounded like "I just saw him with the police!").
I think that 'furbelow' is a word more used in British English than American, and maybe it's as simple as fur+below, though the fur aspect is still rather baffling. We shall see.
Well, I'm glad to report that it is not as simple as all that. A furbelow is indeed a ruffle or a flounce or fringe or , by extension, any elaborate ornamentation. But it has nothing to do with fur, or, for that matter being below anything. The word it stems from is the French word falbala, or perhaps the Provencal variation farbello, which is more of fringe. This in turn is probably a corruption of the Italian faldella, which is the diminutive of falda, which means more like pleat, flap, or fold, and points back to one of those very densely packed ProtoIndoEuropean roots, *pel, which generally means 'to fold'.
Oh, yeah--it's also a seaweed...
|Laminaria bulbosa, a furbelow|