Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[tahr-tn] /ˈtɑr tn/
a woolen or worsted cloth woven with stripes of different colors and widths crossing at right angles, worn chiefly by the Scottish Highlanders, each clan having its own distinctive plaid.
a design of such a plaid known by the name of the clan wearing it.
any plaid.
of, relating to, or resembling tartan.
made of tartan.
Origin of tartan
1490-1500; variant of tertane < Middle French tertaine (Old French tiretaine) linsey-woolsey Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for tartan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You have the kilt at every turn, in every tartan, and often in no tartan at all.

  • The doctor is nearing them rapidly; they can imagine the shepherd's tartan.

  • The tartan touched at the harbour of Pola, called Veruda, and we landed.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • One of them—he recognised to his delight—was a Cameron tartan, often worn by Euphra.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • He wore the "trews" of tartan, which in itself showed him a man of consideration.

    Red Cap Tales Samuel Rutherford Crockett
  • The tartan he wore had more of red in it than that of the other.

    Red Cap Tales Samuel Rutherford Crockett
  • "But in any tartan, cousin, you're not going to let yourself be caught," said Argile.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • With all my heart, if you'll wear this tartan and stop shivering.

    Lords of the North A. C. Laut
British Dictionary definitions for tartan


  1. a design of straight lines, crossing at right angles to give a chequered appearance, esp the distinctive design or designs associated with each Scottish clan: the Buchanan tartan
  2. (as modifier): a tartan kilt
a woollen fabric or garment with this design
the tartan, Highland dress
Derived Forms
tartaned, adjective
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from Old French tertaine linsey-woolsey, from Old Spanish tiritaña a fine silk fabric, from tiritar to rustle


a single-masted vessel used in the Mediterranean, usually with a lateen sail
Word Origin
C17: from French, perhaps from Provençal tartana falcon, buzzard, since a ship was frequently given the name of a bird
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for tartan

mid-15c., perhaps from Middle French tiretaine "strong, coarse fabric" (mid-13c.), from Old French tiret "kind of cloth," from tire "silk cloth," from Medieval Latin tyrius "cloth from Tyre." If this is the source, spelling likely influenced in Middle English by tartaryn "rich silk cloth" (mid-14c.), from Old French tartarin "Tartar cloth," from Tartare "Tartar," the Central Asian people (see Tartar).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for tartan

Word Value for tartan

Scrabble Words With Friends