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petticoat

[pet-ee-koht] /ˈpɛt iˌkoʊt/
noun
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).
adjective
5.
Informal: Sometimes Offensive. of, relating to, or controlled by women; female; feminine:
petticoat government.
Origin
late Middle English
1375-1425
1375-1425; late Middle English petycote. See petty, coat
Related forms
petticoatless, adjective
underpetticoat, 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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for petticoatless

petticoat

/ˈpɛtɪˌkəʊt/
noun
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
Word Origin
C15: see petty, coat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for petticoatless

petticoat

n.

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]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for petticoatless

petticoat

in modern usage, an underskirt worn by women. The petycote (probably derived from the Old French petite cote, "little coat") appeared in literature in the 15th century in reference to a kind of padded waistcoat, or undercoat, worn for warmth over the shirt by men. The petticoat developed as a piece of women's apparel-a skirt worn under an overgown-at the end of the Middle Ages. By the beginning of the 16th century, the overgown had an inverted V opening, and the petticoat, now visible, was brocaded or embroidered

Learn more about petticoat with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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