Definition of tatters in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtadərz/

plural noun

Irregularly torn pieces of cloth, paper, or other material.
Example sentences
  • There were photographs stuck to the stone wall, packages with letters, coins, tatters of cloth.
  • How many pairs of boots did Carlyon tear to tatters in his researches?
  • I twirled the leaf around in my fingers: dry, yellow and brown and brittle, tatters of desiccated material around a skeleton of veins.


in tatters

informal Torn in many places; in shreds: wallpaper hung in tatters
More example sentences
  • And half of the flowers were in tatters, torn by the frenzy of legs and wings.
  • Her sleeves were in tatters, the worn cotton having merely given way to greater force.
  • Sporting a brave front, he put on his battle gear: a worn-out helmet, its straps in tatters.
ragged, tattered, torn, ripped, frayed, in pieces, worn out, moth-eaten, falling to pieces, threadbare
1.1Destroyed; ruined: the ceasefire was in tatters within hours
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The country was carved up among rival militia, the economy was in ruins and the social fabric in tatters.
in ruins, on the rocks, destroyed, finished, devastated


Late Middle English (also in the singular meaning 'scrap of cloth'): from Old Norse tǫtrar 'rags'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tat·ters

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