[tat-er-di-meyl-yuh n, -mal-]


a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person.


ragged; unkempt or dilapidated.

Nearby words

  1. tatp,
  2. tatpurusha,
  3. tatra mountains,
  4. tatt,
  5. tatter,
  6. tattered,
  7. tatters,
  8. tattersall,
  9. tattersall's,
  10. tatti, jacopo

Origin of tatterdemalion

1600–10; first written tatter-de-mallian and rhymed with Italian; see tatter1; -de-mallian < ?

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tatterdemalion

British Dictionary definitions for tatterdemalion



  1. a person dressed in ragged clothes
  2. (as modifier)a tatterdemalion dress

Word Origin for tatterdemalion

C17: from tatter + -demalion, of uncertain origin

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 tatterdemalion



"ragged child, person dressed in old clothes," c.1600, probably from tatter, with fantastic second element, but perhaps also suggested by Tartar, with a contemporary sense of "vagabond, gypsy."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper