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[pet-ee-koht] /ˈpɛt iˌkoʊt/
Also called pettiskirt. an underskirt, especially one that is full and often trimmed and ruffled and of a decorative fabric.
any skirtlike part or covering.
a flounce or valance fitting around the sides of a bed, couch, or chair, as to conceal the legs.
Informal: Sometimes Offensive. a woman or girl (usually used facetiously).
Informal: Sometimes Offensive. of, relating to, or controlled by women; female; feminine:
petticoat government.
Origin of petticoat
late Middle English
First recorded in 1375-1425, petticoat is from the late Middle English word petycote. See petty, coat
Related forms
petticoatless, adjective
underpetticoat, noun
Usage note
In reference to a female, this term is usually used for humorous effect, but is sometimes perceived as insulting or demeaning to women. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for petticoat
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This is my dress, and there's a petticoat and stockings to match it.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • Indecent, if you ask me, with not a petticoat under it, I'll be bound!

    Ruggles of Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • You see it is impossible for him to stop in here with you for ever, as if he was sewn on to your petticoat.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • But she soon laid it down on the work-table, between a petticoat and a bundle of shirts.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • So the day of the petticoat politician is not over in Italy yet?

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • But sink me now if I'd rot myself in rum on account of anything that wears a petticoat.

    Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini
  • Would she not condescend to wear a few gems in her petticoat?

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
  • Well, there was a skirt, a petticoat, some stockings and other things.

  • She made one petticoat, and then gently appealed to her husband.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for petticoat


a woman's light undergarment in the form of an underskirt or including a bodice supported by shoulder straps
  1. a humorous or mildly disparaging name for a woman
  2. (as modifier): petticoat politics
Word Origin
C15: see petty, coat
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 petticoat

early 15c., pety coote, literally "a small coat," from petty + coat (n.). Originally a padded coat worn by men under armor, applied mid-15c. to a garment worn by women and young children. By 1590s, the typical feminine garment, hence a symbol of female sex or character.

Men declare that the petticoatless female has unsexed herself and has left her modesty behind. ["Godey's Magazine," April 1896]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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