Definition of tatters in US English:


plural noun

  • Irregularly torn pieces of cloth, paper, or other material.

    • ‘Jonathan Crane, wearing the rags and tatters of his Scarecrow costume, without his mask, is relaxing on a couch, feet up on an endtable.’
    • ‘They never would have suspected a spy of any sorts the only person there was an old man from the looks of it sitting in a corner covered from head to foot in old rags and tatters.’
    • ‘His clothes were completely ruined, no more than tatters.’
    • ‘A few bits of bone and tatters of cloth were all that remained of Orhandia.’
    • ‘And finally, we found the chamber in which she was kept, spread-eagled against one wall, dressed in rags and tatters of her once-magnificent gown.’
    • ‘It had certainly seen better days, for now sky could be seen through a large gap in one area of the ceiling and the several colourful tapestries adorning the walls were now no more than tatters.’
    • ‘There were blackened corpses and skeletons scattered among the rocks and wood; just bone, metal, and tatters of rotting flesh rejected or missed by scavengers.’
    • ‘Yesterday I bought new shoes, and told the clerk I needed something that would stand up to a great dealing walking the next day without shredding my heel into red tatters.’
    • ‘Other times I want to jump up and down on them until they are in shreds and tatters, cursing the preciosity of it all.’
    • ‘A crowd that clutched parcels of packaged joy had gathered around a joyless, shoeless vagrant who was dressed in newspaper-stuffed tatters.’
    • ‘About half a mile from the Desolate Borough's walls, the city dumped the by-products of dyes, tatters of textiles, and every other waste that had no use for.’
    • ‘Song fragments and electronic tatters abound on this album, and at the moments you put out your hand to their allure, Maricich snaps them back with a smirk.’
    • ‘How can one say that contemporary theories of Egyptian archeologically based history are nothing more than notions derived from a few rags & tatters?’
    • ‘Just as some people, apparently servants in rags and tatters, served dinner.’
    • ‘There were photographs stuck to the stone wall, packages with letters, coins, tatters of cloth.’
    • ‘I twirled the leaf around in my fingers: dry, yellow and brown and brittle, tatters of desiccated material around a skeleton of veins.’
    • ‘The few shreds and tatters of pre-1960s culture, I suppose.’
    • ‘He designs his costume, most often resorting to rags and tatters.’
    • ‘How many pairs of boots did Carlyon tear to tatters in his researches?’
    • ‘Scraps and tatters of the past whirled in my head.’
    rags, scraps, shreds, bits, pieces, bits and pieces, torn pieces, ragged pieces, ribbons, clippings, fragments
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  • in tatters

    • 1Torn in many places; in shreds.

      ‘wallpaper hung in tatters’
      • ‘A grey-bearded Ecuadorian tramp shuffled past, scooping himself a cup of water out of the central fountain, his trousers in tatters around him.’
      • ‘They can't just leave it in tatters on the floor.’
      • ‘One passing eyewitness saw the youths swinging from shop front lettering in the small hours, lettering which now hangs in tatters.’
      • ‘He dragged her from the bedroom and, after she fled downstairs, the attack continued until he eventually pushed her out of the house bare foot and with her clothes in tatters.’
      • ‘Sporting a brave front, he put on his battle gear: a worn-out helmet, its straps in tatters.’
      • ‘Her sleeves were in tatters, the worn cotton having merely given way to greater force.’
      • ‘And half of the flowers were in tatters, torn by the frenzy of legs and wings.’
      ragged, torn, ripped, frayed, split, tattered, in shreds, in bits, in pieces, worn down, worn out, worn to shreds, moth-eaten, falling to pieces, threadbare
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      1. 1.1Destroyed; ruined.
        ‘the ceasefire was in tatters within hours’
        • ‘For fifty years there was no economic progression and by the time that Latvia broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991 its economy was in tatters.’
        • ‘He said his plans to stand as a councillor and start a political career were in tatters because he had been branded a ‘criminal who misuses firearms’.’
        • ‘It was argued that business would be destroyed and the town's economic future would be in tatters.’
        • ‘Hence Europe at war's end was in tatters, Britain was virtually bankrupt, Germany destroyed, and Japan on its knees.’
        • ‘By July, the dream of a smokeless bar was in tatters.’
        • ‘Yet within a few years, John's reputation was in tatters.’
        • ‘The chariots will carry England home, but not in the fashion they expected - instead with dreams of their twelfth Grand Slam in tatters.’
        • ‘With the school's championship finals looming and Jimmy's confidence in tatters once more, his dreams of being spotted by a City talent scout look distant.’
        • ‘Our alliances around the world with other countries that we rely on to help us have been shredded and left in tatters around the globe.’
        • ‘The country was carved up among rival militia, the economy was in ruins and the social fabric in tatters.’
        ruined, in ruins, on the rocks, destroyed, finished, shattered, demolished, devastated, in disarray
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Late Middle English (also in the singular meaning ‘scrap of cloth’): from Old Norse tǫtrar ‘rags’.