• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
adjective, tart·er, tart·est.
  1. sharp to the taste; sour or acid: Tart apples are best for pie.
  2. sharp in character, spirit, or expression; cutting; biting: a tart remark.

Origin of tart1

before 1000; Middle English; Old English teart sharp, rough; akin to Dutch tarten to defy, Middle High German traz defiance
Related formstart·ish, adjectivetart·ish·ly, adverbtart·ly, adverbtart·ness, noun


  1. a small pie filled with cooked fruit or other sweetened preparation, usually having no top crust.
  2. a covered pie containing fruit or the like.
  3. Slang. a prostitute or promiscuous woman.
Verb Phrases
  1. tart up, Slang. to adorn, dress, or decorate, especially in a flamboyant manner: The old restaurant was tarted up to look like a Viennese café.

Origin of tart2

1350–1400; 1905–10 for def 3; Middle English tarte < Middle French; compare Medieval Latin tarta
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tart

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for tart


  1. a pastry case often having no top crust, with a sweet or savoury filling

Word Origin

C14: from Old French tarte, of uncertain origin; compare Medieval Latin tarte


  1. (of a flavour, food, etc) sour, acid, or astringent
  2. cutting, sharp, or caustica tart remark
Derived Formstartish, adjectivetartishly, adverbtartly, adverbtartness, noun

Word Origin

Old English teart rough; related to Dutch tarten to defy, Middle High German traz defiance


  1. informal a promiscuous woman, esp a prostitute: often a term of abuseSee also tart up
Derived Formstarty, adjective

Word Origin

C19: shortened from sweetheart
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

Word Origin and History for tart


"having a sharp taste," late 14c., perhaps from Old English teart "painful, sharp, severe" (in reference to punishment, pain, suffering), of unknown origin; possibly related to the root of teran "to tear." Figurative use, with reference to words, speech, etc., is attested from c.1600.


"small pie," c.1400, from Old French tarte "flat, open-topped pastry" (13c.), possibly an alteration of torte, from Late Latin torta "round loaf of bread" (in Medieval Latin "a cake, tart"), infl. in Middle English by tart (adj.).


"prostitute," 1887, from earlier use as a term of endearment to a girl or woman (1864), sometimes said to be a shortening of sweetheart. But another theory traces it to jam-tart (see tart (n.1)), which was British slang early 19c. for "attractive woman." To tart (something) up is from 1938.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper