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

  • n. Any of numerous textile patterns consisting of stripes of varying widths and colors crossed at right angles against a solid background, each forming a distinctive design worn by the members of a Scottish clan.
  • n. A twilled wool fabric or garment having such a pattern.
  • n. A plaid fabric.
  • n. A small, single-masted Mediterranean ship with a large lateen sail.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A kind of woven woollen cloth with a distinctive pattern of coloured stripes intersecting at right angles, associated with Scottish Highlanders, different clans having their own distinctive patterns.
  • n. The pattern associated with such material.
  • n. An individual or a group wearing tartan; a Highlander or Scotsman in general.
  • n. Trade name of a synthetic resin, used for surfacing tracks etc.
  • adj. Having a pattern like a tartan.
  • adj. Scottish.
  • v. To clothe in tartan.
  • n. A type of one-masted vessel used in the Mediterranean.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Woolen cloth, checkered or crossbarred with narrow bands of various colors, much worn in the Highlands of Scotland; hence, any pattern of tartan; also, other material of a similar pattern.
  • n. A small coasting vessel, used in the Mediterranean, having one mast carrying large leteen sail, and a bowsprit with staysail or jib.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A woolen or worsted cloth woven with lines or stripes of different colors crossing each other at right angles so as to form a definite pattern.
  • n. The design or “set”of the colors in the cloth known as tartan. See set, n., 14.
  • n. The check peculiar to this cloth. Also shepherd's plaid.
  • Variegated with the cross-barred bands and stripes of color characteristic of the Scottish tartans, or with patterns of a similar kind.
  • n. A vessel used in the Mediterranean for commercial and other purposes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a cloth having a crisscross design


Middle English tartane, possibly from Old French tiretaine, linsey-woolsey, probably from tiret, a kind of cloth, from tire, silk cloth, from Latin Tyrius, Tyrian (cloth), from Tyrus, Tyre.
French tartane, from Provençal tartano, from Old Provençal tartana, buzzard, of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)
From French tartane, from Italian tartana, of unceertain origin. (Wiktionary)


  • He spent many an hour playing WoW, dressed in tartan flannel.

    In The Run-Up « Tales from the Reading Room

  • And they're available in tartan, paisley and geometric patterns in a variety of colours.

    Loincloths: The New Japanese Fashion Trend

  • The ring-leader is a buff, shirtless fellow in tartan punk-pants who calls himself (and I am NOT making this up) "Funktastic."

    Bulletproof Monk

  • His tartan was a brilliant crimson and black that blazed among the more sedate MacKenzies in their green and white.

    Sick Cycle Carousel

  • “I will wager on Old Nick, of whom I should know something, he being indeed a worker in the same element with myself, against Catharine on that debate: the devil will have the tartan, that is sure enough.”

    The Fair Maid of Perth

  • How can the voter distinguish between three identical headless chickens, especially when they are all dressed in tartan.

    Awa' Wi' Ye !

  • It is composed of a long antenna, like the yard of a tartan, which is supported in see-saw fashion on an upright beam, and carries at its extremity a wooden bucket.

    Egypt (La Mort de Philae)

  • The consciousness that his tartan was the subject of discussion made the Jew give way to such vehement ejaculations of anxiety, that Servadac turned round and peremptorily ordered him to desist from his clamor.

    Off on a Comet

  • "I will wager on Old Nick, of whom I should know something, he being indeed a worker in the same element with myself, against Catharine on that debate: the devil will have the tartan, that is sure enough."

    The Fair Maid of Perth St. Valentine's Day

  • McCullough said the tartan is a Scottish family plaid with a specific pattern. RSS


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  • Song quotation on spat.

    September 1, 2010

  • Wait. Are you sure it's not a a cloth having a crisscross design?

    March 31, 2008

  • "...having set no more sail and showing no sort of inclination to close with the tartan...

    'What tartan?' called Jack again.

    'Pola,' said the young woman...

    "Behind the tartan the land appeared with every upward heave..."
    --Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander, 311

    A Sea of Words: "tartan or tartana: A small single-masted vessel, varying in size, with a large lateen sail and a foresail, used in the western Mediterranean for trading and fishing." (p. 432)

    March 29, 2008