Definition of tattered in US English:



  • Old and torn; in poor condition.

    ‘an old woman in tattered clothes’
    figurative ‘the tattered remnants of his dreams’
    • ‘Sitting in his second-floor office down the tattered end of Islington, north London, he promises real change.’
    • ‘I walk away cautiously, tip toeing along the path, aware of the many holes in my tattered hiking boots.’
    • ‘Among them were both female and male, clothed in tattered dark garb, skin pale and sometimes scarred in the case of the males.’
    • ‘From her tattered old dress and boots full of holes, Josie knew this girl must not have much money.’
    • ‘Absinthe and tattered clothes are no longer the attributes of the new.’
    • ‘The South African flag is tattered and faded, is usually wrapped around the flagpole and looks a sorry sight.’
    • ‘Rich men with tailored suits knelt by poor men in tattered clothes.’
    • ‘The labourers were in a bad condition, with tattered clothes and worn-out expressions.’
    • ‘He would find his clothes tattered and torn and his belongings smashed.’
    • ‘Spin and weave every day, for our Mother is in tattered weeds and a poor mother needs clothes to cover her sores.’
    • ‘The tattered clothes of the majority of shoeless, rural and urban poor are outward signs of the poverty they endure.’
    • ‘A sigh of accomplishment escaped from my mouth as I finally pulled out an old book, tattered and torn.’
    • ‘Discovered under his bed after his death, they hang here tattered and torn.’
    • ‘They didn't provide much shelter, she noted, still soaked from the rain and with streaks of mud on her face and tattered clothes.’
    • ‘On a main road leading north of Kabul, another refugee pushed a cart piled high with pots and pans, a metal trunk and a few tattered carpets.’
    • ‘I wouldn't mind if the flag was tattered and torn - I would be happy to buy a new one.’
    • ‘Four teens ran down the dirt path of a town, their clothes tattered and patched, but not dirty.’
    • ‘Mr Haw's collection of tattered banners covers 60 feet, and is an eyesore.’
    • ‘Within days the original manuscripts arrived at his home - tattered, torn, pale and faded.’
    • ‘Many of the poor ride bicycles, wear old and sometimes tattered clothing, and live in thatched homes.’
    shabby, well worn, worn, worn to shreds, threadbare, in tatters, in ribbons, in rags, in holes, holey, falling to pieces, falling apart at the seams, ragged, frayed, patched, moth-eaten, faded, seedy, shoddy, sorry, scruffy, dilapidated, crumbling, broken-down, run down, tumbledown, decrepit, deteriorated, on its last legs, having seen better days, time-worn
    View synonyms


Middle English (in the sense ‘dressed in decoratively slashed or jagged clothing’): apparently originally from the noun tatter ‘scrap of cloth’ + -ed; later treated as a past participle.