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

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 There’s also a marketplace, with vendors peddling Scottish jewelry, clothes and art — a good place to stock up on some new tartans or Scottish chocolate. Jen Banowetz, chicagotribune.com, "Itasca's Scottish Festival and Highland Games brings Scotland to the suburbs," 13 May 2018 If these bearded men in untucked gingham/tartan/plaid shirts, working up the nerve to talk to the women, drinking lager and spouting B.S. about C.S. Lewis and H.P. Lovecraft are a cult, then so are most of the corner bars in metropolitan America. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'The Endless': Something's brewing at a cult in this spooky-kooky indie | Movie review," 2 May 2018 But now Steyer, who’s almost entirely ditched his old not-too-camera-friendly practice of wearing a red tartan tie every day, was becoming a political celebrity in his own right. Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "Mega-Donor Tom Steyer Is Forcing Democrats to Talk Impeachment. Is It a Losing Strategy?," 25 May 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

17 Aug 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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