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See more synonyms for tart 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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tarter

Historical Examples

  • It was the drying up of her income which made her Tartar—we beg pardon, tarter and bonier than ever.

    The Countess of Charny

    Alexandre Dumas (pere)

  • He saw heed caught a Tarter, in fact, a regular Tarter emetic, and he slunk away rather sudden.

  • This fantastical folly was in all degrees, from the courtier down to the tarter.

  • The finger-nails should be kept cut, and the teeth should be cleaned every morning, and kept clear from tarter.

    Searchlights on Health

    B. G. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols

  • I gave the woman a dose of creme of tarter and flour of Sulphur, and the man Some eye water.

    The Journals of Lewis and Clark

    Meriwether Lewis and William Clark

British Dictionary definitions for tarter


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



"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.

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"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.

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"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.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper