gri·​mal·​kin gri-ˈmȯ(l)-kən How to pronounce grimalkin (audio) -ˈmal- How to pronounce grimalkin (audio)
: a domestic cat
especially : an old female cat

Did you know?

In the opening scene of William Shakespeare's 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—and for an untidy woman as well. By the 1630s, graymalkin had been altered to the modern spelling grimalkin.

Word History


gray + malkin

First Known Use

1630, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of grimalkin was in 1630


Dictionary Entries Near grimalkin

Cite this Entry

“Grimalkin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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