Definition of rattan in US English:



  • 1The thin pliable stems of a palm, used to make furniture.

    • ‘I am sitting on my rattan mat, the same mat I have practically lived on for five years.’
    • ‘He pushed the older man around the fairgrounds all day in a rented rattan chair on wheels.’
    • ‘The color scheme extends to the attached sunroom with its red rattan settee and yellow armchairs, which have kick pleats in plaid.’
    • ‘Move one upholstered chair out of your living room and replace it with something in wicker, rattan, or woven water hyacinth.’
    • ‘In the United States, Indonesian-made rattan furniture or garments are not inexpensive.’
    • ‘The women wear short sarongs wrapped over one shoulder with a belt or sash and cords of thin black rattan wrapped around their legs.’
    • ‘The fights are between foot soldiers fighting with swords, spears or axes fashioned out of rattan cane.’
    • ‘The inside section is the air-conditioned restaurant proper, with black glass topped tables and cushioned rattan furniture.’
    • ‘The new range turns traditional notions of rattan furniture on its head.’
    • ‘Furnishings in this vein incorporate exotic materials such as bamboo, wicker, rattan, banana bark and motifs of monkeys, elephants, camels and palm leaves.’
    • ‘I escaped fairly lightly, purchasing only rattan baskets, wardrobe storage solutions and a plastic colander.’
    • ‘Bent wood, rattan, wrought iron, or brass give you the best eye appeal in a floor-standing coat rack.’
    • ‘The court sentenced him to four strokes on his bare buttocks with a rattan cane.’
    • ‘She came back moments later, carrying a large rattan basket.’
    • ‘Then she added a rattan chair and table, a water bowl, and garden art.’
    • ‘The finishes range from white or beige, multi-coloured, polished gold or brass, crystal, polished nickel or chrome, wood, rattan, iron, brick, bronze, rust and antique or satin brass.’
    • ‘Police immediately put them under control and police officers wearing helmets and holding shields and rattan sticks surrounded the prison.’
    • ‘Hambali stayed here for two months, rarely leaving the guesthouse, apparently enjoying the views from his host's rattan armchair over Boeung Kak Lake.’
    • ‘The interior is fitted out in a Polynesian theme, with timber and rattan everywhere, along with carved wooden masks, fertility dolls and seashells.’
    • ‘The sturdy fighters each wielded rattan sticks that resembled police batons.’
    1. 1.1 A length of rattan used as a walking stick.
      • ‘What would the legal arguments be on either side if a Committee member wanted to challenge the legality of the use of the rattan on a 17 year old?’
      walking stick, cane, staff
      View synonyms
  • 2The tropical Old World climbing palm which yields rattan, with long, spiny, jointed stems.

    Genus Calamus, family Palmae

    • ‘Living fibres have also been reported in 5-year-old rattan palms (Rhapis excelsa, Calamus axillaris).’
    • ‘As a final touch, he extended the texture of the rattan with grassy sprigs, as well as a six-foot bamboo arrangement in the corner of the bedroom.’
    • ‘Two samples of African rattans were supplied as living seeds for propagation by Dr T. Sunderland from wild plants in Cameroon (voucher at K, the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).’


Mid 17th century: from Malay rotan, probably from raut ‘pare, trim’.