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’
    • ‘Spin and weave every day, for our Mother is in tattered weeds and a poor mother needs clothes to cover her sores.’
    • ‘Absinthe and tattered clothes are no longer the attributes of the new.’
    • ‘Sitting in his second-floor office down the tattered end of Islington, north London, he promises real change.’
    • ‘He would find his clothes tattered and torn and his belongings smashed.’
    • ‘They didn't provide much shelter, she noted, still soaked from the rain and with streaks of mud on her face and tattered clothes.’
    • ‘Among them were both female and male, clothed in tattered dark garb, skin pale and sometimes scarred in the case of the males.’
    • ‘Within days the original manuscripts arrived at his home - tattered, torn, pale and faded.’
    • ‘Mr Haw's collection of tattered banners covers 60 feet, and is an eyesore.’
    • ‘Discovered under his bed after his death, they hang here tattered and torn.’
    • ‘The tattered clothes of the majority of shoeless, rural and urban poor are outward signs of the poverty they endure.’
    • ‘I walk away cautiously, tip toeing along the path, aware of the many holes in my tattered hiking boots.’
    • ‘Rich men with tailored suits knelt by poor men in tattered clothes.’
    • ‘The South African flag is tattered and faded, is usually wrapped around the flagpole and looks a sorry sight.’
    • ‘Four teens ran down the dirt path of a town, their clothes tattered and patched, but not dirty.’
    • ‘From her tattered old dress and boots full of holes, Josie knew this girl must not have much money.’
    • ‘The labourers were in a bad condition, with tattered clothes and worn-out expressions.’
    • ‘Many of the poor ride bicycles, wear old and sometimes tattered clothing, and live in thatched homes.’
    • ‘I wouldn't mind if the flag was tattered and torn - I would be happy to buy a new one.’
    • ‘A sigh of accomplishment escaped from my mouth as I finally pulled out an old book, tattered and torn.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.