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 formskir·tled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kirtle

blouse, jacket, robe, coat, chiton, surcoat, toga

Examples from the Web for kirtle

Historical Examples of kirtle

  • 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.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for kirtle


noun archaic

a woman's skirt or dress
a man's coat

Word Origin for kirtle

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

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