Sunday 12 December 2010


A tatterdemalion is a chap (or chappess) whose clothes are tattered and torn. It is the same as a tatter-wallop, a ragabash, or a flabergudgion; and, given the threadbare state of modern fashion, it is an eminently useful word.

Tatterdemalion should even be immediately comprehensible to the uninitiated because everybody knows what tatter means, and the demalion bit was never anything more than a linguistic fascinator.

Tatterdemalion is a lovely word with a suggestion of dandelions towards the end (although it is pronounced with all the stress on the may of malion).

More wonderfully still, there are spin off words: tatterdemalionism and tatterdemalionry. This latter word means all tatterdemalions. So, for example:

The tatterdemalionry of Shoreditch cannot endure the glory of my silk scarf.

Tell me that's not a useful phrase.

Dress-down Friday at Inky Fool Mansions


  1. I'm doing a lot of tatterdemailing myself and ought to get down to the shops.

  2. Oh yay! One of my favourite words!

  3. The Antipodean, who also heard the phrase 'dress down Friday' used in a BBC news story today,13 December 2010 at 13:17

    We don't have dress down Fridays down under: we have casual Fridays. Dress down Friday strikes me as a little judgemental - perhaps rightly so - whereas casual Friday is just relaxed.

    I still prefer what we called it in primary school: free dress.

  4. I love flabergudgion, but can't find any other reference to that word whatsoever. Did you make it up? Any links?

  5. Slubberdegullion