Main definitions of tartan in English

: tartan1tartan2

tartan1

noun

  • A woollen cloth woven in one of several patterns of coloured checks and intersecting lines, especially of a design associated with a particular Scottish clan.

    ‘stripes and tartans have replaced floral chintzes’
    as modifier ‘a tartan shortbread tin’
    • ‘We had our tartans woven at a mill that makes only tartans.’
    • ‘The dominant symbols of Scottish nationalism - the war-pipes, the military tartans, the Glengarry and so on - are a product of that.’
    • ‘Her version of the plaid, a tartan also in silk, is hung over the shoulder and pinned in place with a brooch.’
    • ‘The revival of the house of Burberry is having an impact too as checks and colourful tartans abound on trousers and skirts.’
    • ‘As tartans became fashionable, their colours were determined by the dyes from clan plants - broom and gorse, symbols of the Sinclairs, Sutherlands and Maclennans, provided yellows.’
    • ‘Each of Scotland's clans has its own tartan, developed over the centuries.’
    • ‘In his own defence, he discloses that, though he is a Londoner to his pearly suit, he is nevertheless one-eighth Scottish on his mother's side, which doesn't even qualify him for a clan tartan.’
    • ‘Symbols that evoke the past of the Highlands include the system of clan tartans and bagpipes.’
    • ‘Instead, tartans probably were regionally based with different patterns belonging to different areas of the country.’
    • ‘The hills were awash with frost and snow and yet nobody dared wear anything but the clan tartan.’
    • ‘The band has worked hard raising funds for the tartan which cost around £1,000 to design and £300 to kit out each band member.’
    • ‘Instead of the typical clan tartans, the Orkney ferry is decorated with posters of dragon-bowed great boats and warriors in horned helmets shoving flaming coffins out into the waves.’
    • ‘The company designs and produces a huge range of tartans - one of which was recently modelled by Ewan McGregor.’
    • ‘The whole point of a tartan is to get many colours working together, weaving themselves into a beautiful pattern.’
    • ‘And yet they made those wonderful clothes for other people - tweeds, cords, mohairs, checks, tartans.’
    • ‘He was wearing a tartan patterned lumberjack shirt and jeans.’
    • ‘If designing a new tartan will save the Scottish Socialist party from dying out completely, I'm willing to have a go.’
    • ‘The company directors of Beartas designed a new tartan, woven in Harris Tweed and called the ‘Isle of Harris Tartan’.’
    • ‘This involves designing and manufacturing tartans for firms including ScottishPower, IF and Barbour.’
    • ‘Clans, tartans, and Highlands, with the help of the Queen herself, had become utterly British and quite fashionable.’

adjective

  • Used allusively in reference to Scotland or the Scots.

    ‘the financing proposals for the Scottish parliament amounted to a tartan tax’
    • ‘In Scotland the red ribbon is tartan thanks to a campaign by the country's leading HIV / AIDS charity, Waverley Care.’
    • ‘This is partly because the much - maligned tartan tax has turned into a remarkably effective instrument of fiscal continence.’
    • ‘Alex Ferguson picking up top coach last year was the nearest we've been to basking in any reflected tartan glory since Liz McColgan did the biz in 1991.’
    • ‘To date, yes: we've peddled tartan schlock in the form of hokum Burns Night suppers to generations of tourists so we can't blame them for finding novelty in the trappings of the occasion.’
    • ‘This afternoon she will lead the nearest thing Scotland has had to a serious tartan assault on a Classic in living memory.’
    • ‘Is it any wonder resentment is now building over Tony's tartan army?’
    • ‘He would love to think that his part, however small, in Liverpool's restoration under Houllier has stoked the embers of the club's tartan tradition.’
    • ‘The sight of Andy Henderson standing on the wing still causes a cold sweat in tartan supporters, though at least Chris Cusiter's test debut proved memorable for the right reasons.’
    • ‘For those who know Mackenzie primarily as the author of whimsical tartan entertainments such as Whisky Galore, this bitter book comes as something of a revelation.’
    • ‘Chief investment officer Wendy Hay, dubbed Scotland's superwoman and a tartan version of City investment boss Nicola Horlick, was first to be directed to the exit door.’
    • ‘Not for him even one of the 300,000 tartan fans specially produced by VisitScotland to promote Scotland in the States.’
    • ‘The first is a negative tartan tax to incentivise business location in Scotland.’
    • ‘The issue has become significant because it is the only fiscal power the Scottish parliament has, short of the 3p up or down in basic rate income tax - but don't expect the tartan tax to be used in the next five years.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, in the Mail's tartan edition, Mr Bartholomew had changed his tune somewhat, recommending to the rag's Scottish readers that they'd be better off staying put.’
    • ‘Alba may be Gaelic for Scotland, but when it comes to the Glasgow-based insurance company, it should be anything but a source of tartan pride.’
    • ‘Scotland isn't just tartan fun and highland jinks, it's urban youth culture as well.’
    • ‘Davis believes Holyrood should use the tartan tax to cut income tax by 3%, even if that means Scots got a better deal than the English.’
    • ‘The first is to prevent Scottish MPs from voting on issues that don't affect Scotland, but Blair needs his tartan army and so that is unlikely to happen.’
    • ‘As the name would suggest, the outstanding All Black, No 8 Scott Robertson, includes some tartan genes, courtesy of a Perthshire-born grandfather.’
    • ‘In the absence of more tartan involvement, rest assured that some locals will settle for the next best thing, hoping to witness England tumble out of the competition, perhaps even on penalties.’

Origin

Late 15th century (originally Scots): perhaps from Old French tertaine, denoting a kind of cloth; compare with tartarin, a rich fabric formerly imported from the east through Tartary.

Pronunciation

tartan

/ˈtɑːt(ə)n/

Main definitions of tartan in English

: tartan1tartan2

tartan2

noun

historical
  • A lateen-rigged, single-masted ship used in the Mediterranean.

    • ‘The tartan was a small vessel that navigated along the coast of the Mediterranean.’

Origin

Early 17th century: from French tartane, from Italian tartana, perhaps from Arabic ṭarīda.

Pronunciation

tartan

/ˈtɑːt(ə)n/