tar·​tan | \ˈtär-tᵊn \

Definition of tartan 

1 : a plaid textile design of Scottish origin consisting of stripes of varying width and color usually patterned to designate a distinctive clan

2a : a twilled woolen fabric with tartan design

b : a fabric with tartan design

3 : a garment of tartan design

Examples of tartan in a Sentence

a kilt in the clan's tartan

Recent Examples on the Web

Before leaving Burberry, former chief creative officer Christopher Bailey reimagined Burberry’s signature tartan check for his final show in January, which was dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth, by adding a rainbow overlay. Aubri Juhasz, The Cut, "Burberry’s Latest Collab Is Full of Cool Kids in Rainbow Check," 13 July 2018 For a trip the Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village, the superstar went relatively subdued with a tartan suit by Calvin Luo, circular movie star sunglasses, and a black clutch. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Of Course Lady Gaga Wore 3 Runway Looks in 24 Hours," 25 May 2018 Earlier this week, Bailey announced that his final show would be dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth, and the tan, black, and red tartan featured in the collection had a rainbow stripe. Amanda Arnold, The Cut, "Every Celebrity Showed Up for Christopher Bailey’s Last Burberry Show," 17 Feb. 2018 Yet the pub is draped in tartan and sits within the golf course clubhouse. Shonda Talerico Dudlicek, Elgin Courier-News, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Grumpy Goat Tavern in Elgin," 6 July 2018 Another year, a picnic blanket in the family tartan. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Princess Diana's Bridesmaid India Hicks Shares What It's Really Like to Be a Royal Wedding Attendant," 16 May 2018 Get your kilt and tartans ready for the 37th annual Scottish Highland Games, presented by the Alaska Scottish Club. Yoshina Okamoto, Anchorage Daily News, "Coming up: Arctic Thunder, Scottish Highland Games and the return of Arlo Guthrie," 28 June 2018 After sifting through racks of clothing, Carpenter chose her look for the night: a tartan coat dress by Missoni and Casadei nude over-the-knee boots. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "24 Hours with Sabrina Carpenter," 1 Dec. 2017 For his part, Justin stuck with his usual casual attire and opted for a black hoodie and red tartan drawstring pants. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Hailey Baldwin Wears a Slip Dress at a Club in Miami With Justin Bieber," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tartan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tartan

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tartan

perhaps from Middle French tiretaine linsey-woolsey

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Statistics for tartan

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for tartan

The first known use of tartan was circa 1500

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English Language Learners Definition of tartan

: a traditional Scottish cloth pattern of stripes in different colors and widths that cross each other to form squares

: fabric with a tartan pattern


tar·​tan | \ˈtär-tᵊn \

Kids Definition of tartan

: a woolen cloth with a plaid design originally made in Scotland

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Comments on tartan

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


by force of circumstances

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