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From Middle English petticote, petycote, peticote, petite cote, equivalent to petty +‎ coat.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpɛtɪkəʊt/
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈpɛtɪkət/[1]
  • (file)


petticoat (plural petticoats)

  1. (historical) A tight, usually padded undercoat worn by women over a shirt and under the doublet.
  2. (historical) A woman's undercoat, worn to be displayed beneath an open gown.
  3. (historical) A fisherman's loose canvas or oilcloth skirt.
  4. (archaic or historical) A type of ornamental skirt or underskirt, often displayed below a dress; chiefly in plural, designating a woman's skirts collectively.
  5. A light woman's undergarment worn under a dress or skirt, and hanging either from the shoulders or (now especially) from the waist; a kind of slip, worn to make the skirt fuller, or for extra warmth.
    • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], chapter VIII, in Pride and Prejudice: [], volume I, London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC, pages 76–77:
      “Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.”
      “Your picture may be very exact, Louisa,” said Bingley; “but this was all lost upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.”
  6. (slang) A woman.
  7. (historical) A bell-mouthed piece over the exhaust nozzles in the smokebox of a locomotive, strengthening and equalising the draught through the boiler-tubes.


Derived terms[edit]



petticoat (third-person singular simple present petticoats, present participle petticoating, simple past and past participle petticoated)

  1. (transitive) To dress in a petticoat.


petticoat (not comparable)

  1. (dated) Feminine; female; involving a woman.
    petticoat influence
    a petticoat affair


  1. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volumes I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 4.412, page 128.

Further reading[edit]