Word of the Day

Friday, July 18, 2008


\tat-uhr-dih-MAYL-yuhn; -MAY-lee-uhn\ , noun;
A person dressed in tattered or ragged clothing; a ragamuffin.
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."
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