tat·​ter | \ ˈta-tər How to pronounce tatter (audio) \
tattered; tattering; tatters

Definition of tatter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make ragged

intransitive verb

: to become ragged



Definition of tatter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a part torn and left hanging : shred
2 tatters plural : tattered clothing : rags

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Synonyms for tatter

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of tatter in a Sentence

Verb the kids will tatter that doll beyond repair if they don't quit yanking on it
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So where did Ransom’s tattered cozy knit end up after filming wrapped? Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Chris Evans Gets His Beloved Dog a Matching Knives Out Cable-Knit Sweater," 26 Dec. 2019 So where did Ransome’s tattered cozy knit end up after filming wrapped? Hanna Flanagan, PEOPLE.com, "Twitter Is Absolutely Obsessed with Chris Evans' Cozy Sweater from Knives Out - Shop the Look!," 3 Dec. 2019 This store, along with other Starbucks locations throughout the city, would fall prey to similar assaults during the day, leaving dozens of storefronts defaced and tattered. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Starbucks in Hong Kong: Caught in the Crossfire," 2 Oct. 2019 Over time, the pages of the book tattered, until Futhu was able to read it himself. New York Times, "The Schoolteacher and the Genocide," 8 Aug. 2019 The flag, pierced by German bullet holes and tattered by the wind, flew aboard one of the landing crafts that troops used to storm the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "D-Day flag that flew at Normandy landing gifted to US 75 years later. Trump accepts flag from Netherlands PM," 19 July 2019 While the cloth jacket had what appeared to be puncture marks and the pants were tattered, the nylon shoes had little weathering. Miles Blumhardt, The Denver Post, "Jaryd Atadero disappeared on hike near Fort Collins 20 years ago. His father has been looking for answers ever since.," 9 June 2019 From privacy to products to the treatment of its own employees and contractors, the banner is tattered. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Google," 26 Dec. 2018 Manager Terry Francona, whose bullpen is tattered, stayed with Kluber into the eighth even with Gregorius leading off. New York Times, "A Potential Pitching Showcase Melts Into a Rugged Yankees Win," 12 July 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Even as other accommodations in the region have reopened, Caneel Bay remains in tatters. Emily Palmer, New York Times, "Caneel Bay: Why a Caribbean Paradise Remains in Ruins," 20 Jan. 2020 Fast-forward to a year and a half later, and our relationship remains in tatters. oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Woman dealing with infertility feels ‘punched in the gut’ by relatives’ pregnancy announcement," 9 Jan. 2020 Now Sunday's announcement leaves the agreement that took years to hammer out in tatters. NBC News, "Trump doubles down on Iran threats, huge crowds mourn Soleimani, and the Golden Globes top moments: The Morning Rundown," 6 Jan. 2020 That faith, already shaken during weeks of political protests against the entrepot’s pro-Beijing government, is in tatters following China’s treatment of Cathay Pacific, an airline based in Hong Kong. The Economist, "Cathay Pacific’s fate rattles multinationals in Hong Kong," 22 Aug. 2019 The timing of regulatory approval for the return of the jet, which has been grounded since March, has slipped repeatedly and remains uncertain with Boeing’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration in tatters. Julie Johnsson, Fortune, "Trump Wants to Know if Boeing’s Okay," 19 Dec. 2019 While her image is in tatters abroad, Suu Kyi is still popular at home. Helen Regan, CNN, "She used to be a democracy icon. This week, she'll defend her country in court against genocide accusations," 10 Dec. 2019 Take, for example, the island of Puerto Rico, which was left in tatters after the onslaught of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Akshat Rathi, Quartz, "Climate resilience will come from prioritizing humans—not what we’ve built," 3 Dec. 2019 Mr Bolsonaro’s plans for fighting crime and corruption are in tatters. The Economist, "The strange passivity of Jair Bolsonaro," 23 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tatter.' 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 tatter


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tatter


Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse tǫturr tatter; akin to Old English tætteca rag, Old High German zotta matted hair, tuft

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Time Traveler for tatter

Time Traveler

The first known use of tatter was in the 14th century

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Statistics for tatter

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tatter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tatter. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for tatter


tat·​ter | \ ˈta-tər How to pronounce tatter (audio) \

Kids Definition of tatter

1 : a part torn and left hanging : shred
2 tatters plural : ragged clothing

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More from Merriam-Webster on tatter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tatter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tatter

Spanish Central: Translation of tatter

Nglish: Translation of tatter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tatter for Arabic Speakers

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