Definition of tatters in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈtatəz/

plural noun

Irregularly torn pieces of cloth, paper, or other material: he was forced to wear rags and tatters a beggar would scorn
More 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.
rags, scraps, shreds, bits, pieces, bits and pieces, torn pieces, ragged pieces, ribbons, clippings, fragments


in tatters

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.
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.



Example sentences
  • I found myself thinking about that thing long after I read the piece, tattery black plastic and metal bits.
  • Did think about comandeering the cruise boat but it was rather cold and I didn't think I would be too successful in a tattery silk dress and stilettos!
  • I can fill holes no bother, its the mess the walls are in after scraping. layers of cardboard stuff is coming off with the paper leaving tattery bits all over the shot.


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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tat|ters

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.