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EnglishEdit

PronunciationEdit

  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌkætəˈwɑmpəs/, /ˈkætəwɑmpəs/

Etymology 1Edit

The first part may be related to cater-corner. The second part may be related to wampish (wriggle, twist about like a fish).

AdjectiveEdit

catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)

  1. (US) Out of alignment, in disarray or disorder: crooked, askew.
    • 1885, Charles Egbert Craddock, Down the Ravine:
      "Waal, I noticed ez the aidge o' one o' them boards war sot sorter catawampus, ...".

Alternative formsEdit

SynonymsEdit
TranslationsEdit

AdverbEdit

catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)

  1. (US) Diagonally.
  2. (US) Utterly.

Etymology 2Edit

Perhaps from catamount (cougar, puma, lynx), influenced by the adjective above.

NounEdit

catawampus (plural catawampuses)

  1. (US) A fierce imaginary animal, a bogeyman.
TranslationsEdit

AdjectiveEdit

catawampus (comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)

  1. (US) Fierce, destructive.
    • 1844, Charles Dickens, chapter 21, in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit:
      There air some catawampous chawers in the small way too, as graze upon a human pretty strong; but don't mind them, they're company.

ReferencesEdit

  • Jonathan E. Lighter, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume I, A-G. Random House USA, 1994. →ISBN.
  • Frederic G. Cassidy, Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume I, A-C. Harvard University Press, 1985. →ISBN.
  • Eric Partridge, The Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang. Routledge, 1973. →ISBN.
  • “catawampus” in Mrs. Byrne [Josefa Heifetz Byrne], Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words: Gathered from Numerous and Diverse Authoritative Sources, London: Granada Publishing, 1979, →ISBN.

Further readingEdit