• synonyms


See more synonyms for tatter on Thesaurus.com
  1. a torn piece hanging loose from the main part, as of a garment or flag.
  2. a separate torn piece; shred.
  3. tatters, torn or ragged clothing: dressed in rags and tatters.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to tear or wear to tatters.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become ragged.
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Origin of tatter1

1375–1425; (noun) late Middle English < Old Norse tǫturr rag, tatter; akin to Old English tætteca rag, shred; (v.) back formation from tattered


  1. a person who does tatting, especially as an occupation.
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Origin of tatter2

First recorded in 1880–85; tat + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tatter

Historical Examples

  • It had gone; no trace was left, not a tatter of cloth, not a spot of blood, nothing.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Why may you not have saved that tatter of the old gown twice seven years, then?

    Donald and Dorothy

    Mary Mapes Dodge

  • You go round by Tatter Brook, says he, an climb the hill from behind.

  • Now quite unexpectedly we saw the "tatter of scarlet" from a new angle.

    A Tatter of Scarlet

    S. R. Crockett

  • Was a tatter't boggart, in a field, an' that they left behind.

British Dictionary definitions for tatter


  1. to make or become ragged or worn to shreds
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  1. (plural) torn or ragged pieces, esp of material
  2. in tatters
    1. torn to pieces; in shreds
    2. destroyed or ruined
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Word Origin

C14: of Scandinavian origin; compare Icelandic töturr rag, Old English tættec, Old High German zæter rag
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 tatter


mid-14c., "clad in slashed garments," from Old Norse toturr "rag," cognate with Old English tættec, tætteca "rag, tatter," Low German tater "tatter." The noun is attested from c.1400.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper