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The back of a kirtle (c. 4th century C.E., sense 1) from Thorsberg moor, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, on display in the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesmuseum in Gottorf Castle
Jonathan Richardson, Lady Anne Cavendish (daughter of Elihu Yale?) (c. 1725), collection of the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. The portrait depicts a woman wearing the fur-lined kirtle (sense 3) of a peeress’s coronation robes, and so is thought unlikely to be Anne, the daughter of Elihu Yale, since her husband was not a peer.


From Old English cyrtel, cognate with Old Norse kyrtill (tunic) (whence Icelandic kyrtill, Danish kjortel (gown, tunic), Swedish kjortel (petticoat, skirt)), from Old Norse *kurtil-, supposedly a diminutive of *kurt-, from Latin curtus (short, shortened). Compare German Kittel.



kirtle (plural kirtles)

  1. A knee-length tunic.
  2. A short jacket.
  3. A woman's gown; a woman's outer petticoat or skirt.



kirtle (third-person singular simple present kirtles, present participle kirtling, simple past and past participle kirtled)

  1. (transitive) To clothe or cover with, or as if with, a kirtle.

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