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[kur-tl] /ˈkɜr tl/
a woman's loose gown, worn in the Middle Ages.
Obsolete. a man's tunic.
Origin of kirtle
before 900; Middle English kirtel, Old English cyrtel, apparently equivalent to cyrt(an) to shorten (≪ Latin curtus shortened) + -el -le
Related forms
kirtled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for kirtle
Historical Examples
  • She put her hand to her kirtle and gripped the knife at her side.

    Eric Brighteyes H. Rider Haggard
  • The kirtle or petticoat is in reality a development of the tunic.

    Chats on Costume G. Woolliscroft Rhead
  • When the corslet was unclasped, the arrow had only to be pulled out of the belt and kirtle.

    The World of Homer

    Andrew Lang
  • And I am weary withal, and this kirtle is light and easy to me.

  • He sheareth a deal from his kirtle meet, To make her sandals for her feet.

    Poems by the Way William Morris
  • A kirtle is a gown; Skeat suggests that it is a diminutive of skirt.

    Milton's Comus John Milton
  • That evening when they parted he knelt at her feet and kissed the hem of her kirtle.

  • Having kissed the hem of her kirtle he turned towards the house.

  • She was richly dressed in a kirtle of vermeil silk, broidered with gold, and her mantle was worth the spoil of a king's castle.

  • She leaped out without a moment's thought among the rushes, with her kirtle girt up close above her knees.

    Folle-Farine Ouida
British Dictionary definitions for kirtle


noun (archaic)
a woman's skirt or dress
a man's coat
Word Origin
Old English cyrtel, probably from cyrtan to shorten, ultimately from Latin curtus cut short
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for kirtle

"a man's tunic; a woman's skirt," Old English cyrtel, related to Old Norse kyrtill "tunic;" both regarded as probably from Latin curtus "short" (see curt) + diminutive suffix -el.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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