Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A cat, especially an old female cat.
  • n. An old woman considered to be ill-tempered.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A cat, especially an elderly female.
  • n. An old, bad-tempered woman; a crone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An old cat, especially a she-cat.
  • n. A bad-tempered old woman.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cat, especially an old cat: often used as a proper name, with or without a capital letter.

Etymologies

Variant of graymalkin : gray1 + obsolete malkin, lower-class woman; see merkin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From grey + malkin; "grey-haired cat" or "grey-haired woman" (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • A grimalkin, that is to say, a Cat, went out one night to a certain garden, in search of what she might devour, but found nothing and became weak for the excess of cold and rain that prevailed that night.

    Arabian nights. English

  • A related word is grimalkin, referring to an old female cat or an ill-tempered old woman.

    Is That Legal?: My Bad.

  • To let the peculiar grimalkin-grimace come on her face, the most weird grimalkin-twang come into her voice?

    The Plumed Serpent

  • And they remained these grey-ribbed grimalkins, dressed in elegant clothes, the grimalkin howl even passing into their smart chatter.

    The Plumed Serpent

  • Of all the horrors, perhaps the grimalkin women, her contemporaries, were the most repellent to her.

    The Plumed Serpent

  • In the dead of the night there was a fearful caterwauling; some grimalkin was uncivil to her; then there was a scramble, then a clapper-clawing; then both parties rolled off the roof and tumbled from a great height among the trees on the hill side.

    The Alhambra

  • Pinch its scut or bite its ears, and when it exclaims, "Miauw!" it is not a genuine rabbit, but a grimalkin in disguise.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 102, May 21, 1892

  • Moreover, he had hundreds of mice to his credit and no birds, for he was a good and wise grimalkin.

    The Faery Tales of Weir

  • But, as the baited grimalkin turns to the worrying cur, so did the bull turn exactly with my movements, ever presenting his head, and nothing but his head.

    Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 3, July, 1851

  • A cheerful fire blazes on the hearth; and at the moment grimalkin is purring on the rug.

    The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, January 1844 Volume 23, Number 1

Comments

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  • 1. A cat, especially an old female cat. 2. An old woman considered to be ill-tempered.

    ETYMOLOGY: Variant of graymalkin : gray1 + obsolete malkin, lower-class woman; see merkin.

    May 18, 2007