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[maw-kin, mawl-, mal-]
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noun British Dialect.
  1. an untidy woman; slattern.
  2. a scarecrow, ragged puppet, or grotesque effigy.
  3. a mop, especially one made from a bundle of rags and used to clean out a baker's oven.
  4. a cat.
  5. a hare.
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Also mawkin.

Origin of malkin

1200–50; Middle English: literally, little Molly, equivalent to Mal, variant of Molly Mary + -kin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for malkin


  1. an archaic or dialect name for a cat 1 Compare grimalkin
  2. a variant of mawkin
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Word Origin

C13: diminutive of Maud
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 malkin


also mawkin, "a slattern; woman of the lower classes," late 13c., from fem. proper name Malkyn, a diminutive of Mault "Maud" (see Matilda). Also attested from c.1200 as the proper name of a female specter. Sense of "untidy woman" led to meaning "mop, bundle of rags on a stick" (used to clean ovens, artillery pieces, etc.), c.1400.

MALKINTRASH. One in dismal garb. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]

Attested as the name of a cat since 1670s (perhaps earlier as Grimalkin, 16c.); cf. Serbo-Croatian mačka "cat," originally a pet-name form of Maria. Also used in Scotland and northern England as the name of a hare (1724).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper