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See more synonyms for petticoat on Thesaurus.com
  1. Also called pettiskirt. an underskirt, especially one that is full and often trimmed and ruffled and of a decorative fabric.
  2. any skirtlike part or covering.
  3. a flounce or valance fitting around the sides of a bed, couch, or chair, as to conceal the legs.
  4. Informal: Sometimes Offensive. a woman or girl (usually used facetiously).
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  1. Informal: Sometimes Offensive. of, relating to, or controlled by women; female; feminine: petticoat government.
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Origin of petticoat

First recorded in 1375–1425, petticoat is from the late Middle English word petycote. See petty, coat
Related formspet·ti·coat·less, adjectiveun·der·pet·ti·coat, noun

Usage note

In reference to a female, this term is usually used for humorous effect, but is sometimes perceived as insulting or demeaning to women.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for petticoat

female, feminine, slip, clothes, waistcoat, underskirt, kilt, balmoral, undercoat

Examples from the Web for petticoat

Contemporary Examples of petticoat

Historical Examples of petticoat

  • This is my dress, and there's a petticoat and stockings to match it.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Indecent, if you ask me, with not a petticoat under it, I'll be bound!

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • You see it is impossible for him to stop in here with you for ever, as if he was sewn on to your petticoat.

    A Hero of Our Time

    M. Y. Lermontov

  • But she soon laid it down on the work-table, between a petticoat and a bundle of shirts.


    Emile Zola

  • So the day of the petticoat politician is not over in Italy yet?

British Dictionary definitions for petticoat


  1. a woman's light undergarment in the form of an underskirt or including a bodice supported by shoulder straps
  2. informal
    1. a humorous or mildly disparaging name for a woman
    2. (as modifier)petticoat politics
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Word Origin for petticoat

C15: see petty, coat
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 petticoat


early 15c., pety coote, literally "a small coat," from petty + coat (n.). Originally a padded coat worn by men under armor, applied mid-15c. to a garment worn by women and young children. By 1590s, the typical feminine garment, hence a symbol of female sex or character.

Men declare that the petticoatless female has unsexed herself and has left her modesty behind. ["Godey's Magazine," April 1896]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper