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[slat-ern] /ˈslæt ərn/
a slovenly, untidy woman or girl.
a slut; harlot.
Origin of slattern
First recorded in 1630-40; perhaps akin to dial. slatter to splash, spill < ?
Word story
See slut. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for slattern
Historical Examples
  • It is true that Nanny was a slattern, but only because she married into slavery.

    A Window in Thrums

    J. M. Barrie
  • From her I learned that because one is an actress it is not necessary to be a slattern.

    Ten American Girls From History Kate Dickinson Sweetser
  • It was still early in the day and there was something of the slattern in her dragging gown.

    Doom Castle Neil Munro
  • It seemed to her that they would mock her as the slattern had mocked her, should she appeal to them.

    'Drag' Harlan

    Charles Alden Seltzer
  • I took a sort of hate against her, she was such a slattern and so inquisitive.

    A Book of Ghosts Sabine Baring-Gould
  • For, if he lived, he was going to drag her off himself, but he wouldn't make her a slattern.

    The Guarded Heights Wadsworth Camp
  • You don't suppose I mean to be a slattern if we are ever so poor.

    Heriot's Choice Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Even if you have your own work to do, there is no necessity why you should be a dowdy or a slattern.

    Courtship and Marriage

    Annie S. Swan
  • I could not but admire a certain degree of slattern elegance about the baggage.

    Bracebridge Hall

    Washington Irving
  • I fancy my predecessor must have been a "slattern," for everything was thick with dust.

    In the Ranks of the C.I.V. Erskine Childers
British Dictionary definitions for slattern


a slovenly woman or girl; slut
Derived Forms
slatternly, adjective
slatternliness, noun
Word Origin
C17: probably from slattering, from dialect slatter to slop; perhaps from Scandinavian; compare Old Norse sletta to slap
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 slattern

1630s, "a woman negligent or disordered in her dress or household," of uncertain origin, probably related to Low German Slattje, Dutch slodder, dialectal Swedish slata "slut" (in the older, non-sexual sense; cf. slut). Cf. dialectal English verb slatter "to spill or splash awkwardly, to waste," used of women or girls considered untidy or slovenly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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