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See also: Tartan, tartán, and tårtan


A montage of Scottish tartans (patterns) of various clans


Etymology 1[edit]

Blend of Middle English tartaryn (rich material), from Middle French tartarin (Tartar cloth), and Middle French tiretaine (cloth of mixed fibers), from Old French tiret (kind of cloth), from tire (oriental cloth of silk), from Medieval Latin tyrius (material from Tyre), from Latin Tyrus (Tyre).

English Wikipedia has an article on:


tartan (countable and uncountable, plural tartans)

  1. A kind of woven woollen cloth with a distinctive pattern of coloured stripes intersecting at right angles, associated with Scottish Highlanders, different clans and some Scottish families and institutions having their own distinctive patterns.
  2. The pattern associated with such material.
  3. An individual or a group wearing tartan; a Highlander or Scotsman in general.
  4. Trade name of a synthetic resin, used for surfacing tracks etc.
Derived terms[edit]


tartan (comparative more tartan, superlative most tartan)

  1. Having a pattern like a tartan.
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 11:
      ... my pupils leave off their thick shoes and tight old tartan pelisses, and wear silk stockings and muslin frocks, as fashionable baronets' daughters should.
    • 1929, M. Barnard Eldershaw, A House Is Built, Chapter IX, Section iii
      In the second row of the cavalcade were Francie, Fanny's god-daughter, now thirteen years old and already elegant in long frilled pantalettes, tartan skirts, and a leghorn hat with streamers, …
  2. (humorous) Scottish.



tartan (third-person singular simple present tartans, present participle tartaning, simple past and past participle tartaned)

  1. (transitive) To clothe in tartan.

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from French tartane, from Italian tartana, of uncertain origin.

Alternative forms[edit]


tartan (plural tartans)

  1. A type of one-masted vessel used in the Mediterranean.
    • 1877, Jules Verne, Ellen E. Frewer (translator), Hector Servadac, Part 2, Chapter X: Market Prices in Gallia,
      Hakkabut hereupon descended into the hold of the tartan, and soon returned, carrying ten packets of tobacco, each weighing one kilogramme, and securely fastened by strips of paper, labelled with the French Government stamp.
    • 1896, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rodney Stone, Chapter IV: The Peace of Amiens,
      When we were watching Massena, off Genoa, we got a matter of seventy schooners, brigs, and tartans, with wine, food, and powder.
  2. (historical) A kind of long covered carriage.




From English tartan.


  • IPA(key): /tartan/, [ˈtˢɑːtˢan]


tartan n or c (singular definite tartanet or tartanen)

  1. tartan (woollen cloth with a distinctive pattern)
  2. tartan (synthetic resin, used for surfacing tracks etc.) [from 1969]

Related terms[edit]



Borrowed from English tartan.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtɑr.tɑn/, (colloquial) /tɑrˈtɑn/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: tar‧tan


tartan n or m (plural tartans)

  1. Tartan, a tartan (woollen cloth with a distinctive pattern of intersecting orthogonal coloured stripes, associated with Scottish Highlanders).
  2. A kilt or cloak made of tartan.

Usage notes[edit]

Neuter gender is usually preferred for the mass noun denoting the fabric while masculine is preferred for countable nouns, but the distinction is not observed as clearly for this word as it is for other terms that are both mass nouns and countable nouns.

Related terms[edit]



From French tartan.


tartan n (plural tartane)

  1. tartan