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Dating from the 17th century; related to slattering (slovenly), from the dialectal verb slatter (to slop, to spill).[1]



slattern (plural slatterns)

  1. (derogatory) A slut, a sexually promiscuous woman.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:promiscuous woman
  2. (dated) One who is uncareful or unconcerned about appearance or surroundings, usually said of a dirty and untidy woman.
    Synonym: (archaic) moggy
    • 1809, Noah Webster, Esq., An American Selection of Lessons in Reading and Speaking: Calculated to Improve the Minds and Refine the Taste of Youth, to Which are Prefixed Rules in Elocution and Directions for Expressing the Principal Passions of the Mind, page 24:
      3. Cookery is familiar to her, with the price and quality of provisions; and she is a ready accountant. Her chief view, however, is to serve her mother and lighten her cares. She holds cleanliness and neetness to be indispensable in a woman; and that a slattern is disgusting, especially if beautiful.
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 5, in The History of Pendennis. [], volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      A dunce he always was, it is true; for learning cannot be acquired by leaving school and entering at college as a fellow-commoner; but he was now (in his own peculiar manner) as great a dandy as he before had been a slattern, and when he entered his sitting-room to join his two guests, arrived scented and arrayed in fine linen, and perfectly splendid in appearance.
    • 1868 September 17, Lizzie Leavenworth, ★★Slattern Genius★★; quoted in 2001 by Anne Russo and Cherise Kramarae in The Radical Women’s Press of the 1850s, page 202:
      [] How many times I have heard a woman called a slattern, because she could not keep a house in order, when had she been allowed to write out her sublime thoughts, which were all in another direction, she would have astonished the world with her genius.
    • 1933, Noel Coward, Private Lives: an Intimate Comedy in Three Acts, Act 3:
      AMANDA: I’ve been brought up to believe that it’s beyond the pale, for a man to strike a woman.
      ELYOT: A very poor tradition. Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.
      AMANDA: You’re an unmitigated cad, and a bully.
      ELYOT: And you’re an ill-mannered, bad tempered slattern.
      AMANDA (loudly): Slattern indeed.
      ELYOT: Yes, slattern, slattern, slattern, and fishwife.
      VICTOR: Keep your mouth shut, you swine.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ The Concise Oxford English Dictionary [Eleventh Edition]
  2. ^ slattern”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.