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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.
  2. (dated) A dirty and untidy woman.
    • 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, p24
      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.
    • 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