tar·​tan ˈtär-tᵊn How to pronounce tartan (audio)
: a plaid textile design of Scottish origin consisting of stripes of varying width and color usually patterned to designate a distinctive clan
: a twilled woolen fabric with tartan design
: a fabric with tartan design
: a garment of tartan design

Examples of tartan in a Sentence

a kilt in the clan's tartan
Recent Examples on the Web During a rainy afternoon this week, she’s perched over a table at a restaurant in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan across from Carr, unassuming, sporting a dark crew neck sweater, with a collared shirt and tartan skirt. Ilana Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 29 Sep. 2023 Chanel’s bouclé tweeds and tartan ensembles, which were made in monochrome as well as pastel palettes, became synonymous with her refined, ever-so-slightly rugged style. Lindsay Talbot, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2023 The late monarch sported a tartan skirt, a staple of her wardrobe during her visits to Scotland. Clare Fisher, Peoplemag, 8 Sep. 2023 Some earlier possible examples of tartans have been found in England, including the Falkirk tartan which dates back to the third century. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 3 Apr. 2023 Walking the picturesque streets of Edinburgh, heading to the Highlands, buying a tartan accessory or two, and attending a whisky tasting are likely strong contenders. Lydia Mansel, Travel + Leisure, 5 Sep. 2023 At one point, P.J. attempts to emulate Brittany’s cute yellow top, but with vintage tartan pants in a drab mustard. Fawnia Soo Hoo, refinery29.com, 4 Sep. 2023 His green, blue and red tartan was designed by The Scottish Tartans Authority earlier this year. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 2 Sep. 2023 Diamond recalls the first time her brand sold out of its tartan Nap Dresses in December 2019. Claire Stern, ELLE, 15 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tartan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps from Middle French tiretaine linsey-woolsey

First Known Use

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tartan was circa 1500

Dictionary Entries Near tartan

Cite this Entry

“Tartan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tartan. Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


tar·​tan ˈtärt-ᵊn How to pronounce tartan (audio)
: a plaid textile design of Scottish origin
: a fabric or garment with tartan design

More from Merriam-Webster on tartan

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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