catawampus

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌkætəˈwɑmpəs/, /ˈkætəwɑmpəs/

Etymology 1[edit]

The first part may be related to cater-corner. The second part may be related to wampish (wriggle, twist about like a fish).

Adjective[edit]

catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)

  1. (US) Out of alignment, in disarray or disorder: crooked, askew.
    • 1885, Charles Egbert Craddock, Down the Ravine:
      "Waal, I noticed ez the aidge o' one o' them boards war sot sorter catawampus, ...".

Alternative forms[edit]

Synonyms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)

  1. (US) Diagonally.
  2. (US) Utterly.

Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps from catamount (cougar, puma, lynx), influenced by the adjective above.

Noun[edit]

catawampus (plural catawampuses)

  1. (US) A fierce imaginary animal, a bogeyman.
Translations[edit]

Adjective[edit]

catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)

  1. (US) Fierce, destructive.
    • 1844, Charles Dickens, chapter 21, in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit:
      There air some catawampous chawers in the small way too, as graze upon a human pretty strong; but don't mind them, they're company.

References[edit]

  • Jonathan E. Lighter, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume I, A-G. Random House USA, 1994. →ISBN.
  • Frederic G. Cassidy, Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume I, A-C. Harvard University Press, 1985. →ISBN.
  • Eric Partridge, The Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang. Routledge, 1973. →ISBN.
  • “catawampus” in Mrs. Byrne [Josefa Heifetz Byrne], Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words: Gathered from Numerous and Diverse Authoritative Sources, London: Granada Publishing, 1979, →ISBN.

Further reading[edit]