1 (usually spats) historical A short cloth gaiter covering the instep and ankle.
- His father was dressed in a rubber macintosh, with thick domestic gloves, spats, and a trilby hat.
- Flustered, the blonde boy untied his spats, and took off one of his sock-shoes, sort of hopping around on one foot while doing so.
- You can also take off those spats and gauntlets.
early 19th century: abbreviation of spatterdash.
A quarrel about an unimportant matter: when we had our little spats, he had only to smile to get back on the right side of me
More example sentences
- Almost immediately they run into a pointless spat with local tough guys that spirals into a violent feud.
- They're typical brothers, so they get into these little spats with each other sometimes, and they separate them.
- Soon after we met, Slater was in the papers again after his wife allegedly broke a glass over his head during a violent spat.
verb (spats, spatting, spatted)[no object] Back to top
early 19th century (originally a US colloquial usage): probably imitative.