gri·​mal·​kin | \ gri-ˈmȯ(l)-kən How to pronounce grimalkin (audio) , -ˈmal- How to pronounce grimalkin (audio) \

Definition of grimalkin

: a domestic cat especially : an old female cat

Did You Know?

In the opening scene of Macbeth, one of the three witches planning to meet with Macbeth suddenly announces, "I come, Graymalkin." The witch is responding to the summons of her familiar, or guardian spirit, which is embodied in the form of a cat. Shakespeare's "graymalkin" literally means "gray cat." The "gray" is of course the color; the "malkin" was a nickname for Matilda or Maud that came to be used in dialect as a general name for a cat (and sometimes a hare). By the 1630s, "graymalkin" had been altered to the modern spelling "grimalkin."

First Known Use of grimalkin

1630, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for grimalkin

gray + malkin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about grimalkin

Time Traveler for grimalkin

Time Traveler

The first known use of grimalkin was in 1630

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about grimalkin

Statistics for grimalkin

Cite this Entry

“Grimalkin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Comments on grimalkin

What made you want to look up grimalkin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!