Word of the Day Archive
Tuesday September 21, 2004
tatterdemalion \tat-uhr-dih-MAYL-yuhn; -MAY-lee-uhn\ , noun:
1. A person dressed in tattered or ragged clothing; a ragamuffin.
1. Tattered; ragged.
Last time peasant blouses surfaced, in the 1960s and '70s, they were part of an epidemic of Indian bedspread dresses, homemade blue-jean skirts, Army surplus jackets, Greek bookbag purses and love beads, the whole eclectic tatterdemalion mix meant to express egalitarian sentiments and countercultural solidarity with underdogs everywhere.
-- Patricia McLaughlin, "The peasant look", Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, April 25, 1999
I was expecting a wild hair, clanking jewelry, a tatterdemalion velvet cape from whose folds wafted the scent of incense, a house full of candles, dream catchers, cats, and bad art.
-- David Rakoff, Fraud
To my ear, though, the prose has the tatterdemalion feel of something hooked together by commas, tacked together by periods.
-- Brad Leithauser, "Capturer of Hearts", New York Times, April 7, 1996
Tatterdemalion derives from tatter + -demalion, of unknown origin, though perhaps from Old French maillon, "long clothes, swadding clothes" or Italian maglia, "undershirt."