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[tat-er] /ˈtæt ər/
a torn piece hanging loose from the main part, as of a garment or flag.
a separate torn piece; shred.
tatters, torn or ragged clothing:
dressed in rags and tatters.
verb (used with object)
to tear or wear to tatters.
verb (used without object)
to become ragged.
Origin of tatter1
late Middle English
1375-1425; (noun) late Middle English < Old Norse tǫturr rag, tatter; akin to Old English tætteca rag, shred; (v.) back formation from tattered


[tat-er] /ˈtæt ər/
a person who does tatting, especially as an occupation.
1880-85; tat + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tatter
Historical Examples
  • Now quite unexpectedly we saw the "tatter of scarlet" from a new angle.

    A Tatter of Scarlet S. R. Crockett
  • It had gone; no trace was left, not a tatter of cloth, not a spot of blood, nothing.

    The Night Riders Ridgwell Cullum
  • A whole garment had been given her instead of the tatter of rags in which she had returned to the little Indian pueblo.

    The Treasure Trail Marah Ellis Ryan
  • You go round by tatter Brook, says he, an climb the hill from behind.

    Every Man for Himself Norman Duncan
  • In comes the cock that made the cock-y-leekie, boiled down in his tough antiquity to a tatter.

  • But, search as one will, not a crust or a tatter turns up in her history!

    Stars of the Opera Mabel Wagnalls
  • In the little brass bowl lay a blood-stained fragment of grayish hair attached to a tatter of skin.

  • She wished to discover what remnant, tatter or shred of her early faith still clung about her.

    Evelyn Innes George Moore
  • As stated above, I think that I could recognize the umbilical cord attached to a tatter of the skin.

  • Whether it was the red flag that floated at the top or the thing itself he sought to tatter is uncertain.

British Dictionary definitions for tatter


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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