• synonyms


[tat-er-di-meyl-yuh n, -mal-]
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  1. a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person.
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  1. ragged; unkempt or dilapidated.
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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. 2018

Related Words for tatterdemalion

shoddy, broken, dilapidated, moth-eaten, ragged, raggedy, rugged, seedy, shabby, shaggy, threadbare, torn, unkempt, battered, frayed, frazzled, ripped, scraggy

Examples from the Web for tatterdemalion

Historical Examples of tatterdemalion

  • Look at that tatterdemalion, and think how came he by such notions.'

    Gerald Fitzgerald

    Charles James Lever

  • There, at the corner near the learned Club-house, halts the tatterdemalion.

  • The tatterdemalion is quicker still; fled like a guilty thought.

  • Towards the tatterdemalion the policeman now advances quickly.

  • With a stern glance Stonor kept the tatterdemalion crowd at bay.

    The Woman from Outside

    Hulbert Footner

British Dictionary definitions for tatterdemalion


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper