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From grey + malkin; literally "grey-haired cat" or "grey-haired woman".



grimalkin (plural grimalkins)

  1. A cat, especially an elderly female.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In Six Volumes, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: Printed by A[ndrew] Millar, [], OCLC 928184292:
      Thus fable reports that the fair Grimalkin, whom Venus, at the desire of a passionate lover, converted from a cat into a fine woman, no sooner perceived a mouse than, mindful of her former sport, and still retaining her pristine nature, she leaped from the bed of her husband to pursue the little animal.
    • 1845 October – 1846 June, Ellis Bell [pseudonym; Emily Brontë], chapter III, in Wuthering Heights: A Novel, volume I, London: Thomas Cautley Newby, publisher, [], published December 1847, OCLC 156123328, pages 61–62:
      Two benches, shaped in sections of a circle, nearly enclosed the hearth; on one of these I stretched myself, and Grimalkin mounted the other. [] He [Joseph] cast a sinister look at the little flame which I had enticed to play between the ribs, swept the cat from its elevation, and bestowing himself in the vacancy, commenced the operation of stuffing a three-inch pipe with tobacco; []
  2. (archaic) A bad-tempered old woman; a crone.


  • 1553 - William Baldwin, Beware the Cat
    Servant:..."Commend me unto Titton Tatton and to Puss thy Catton, and tell her that Grimalkin is dead.".
  • 1606 - William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act I, Scene I
    Witch: I come, Gray-Malkin.
  • 1749Henry Fielding, Tom Jones, book II, ch 4
    As fair Grimalkin, who, though the youngest of the feline family, degenerates not in ferocity from the elder branches of her house, and though inferior in strength, is equal in fierceness to the noble tiger himself, when a little mouse, whom it hath long tormented in sport, escapes from her clutches for a while, frets, scolds, growls, swears; but if the trunk, or box, behind which the mouse lay hid be again removed, she flies like lightning on her prey, and, with envenomed wrath, bites, scratches, mumbles, and tears the little animal.
  • 1836 - Washington Irving, Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, Abbotsford
    Among the other important and privileged members of the household who figured in attendance at the dinner, was a large gray cat, who, I observed, was regaled from time to time with tit-bits from the table. This sage grimalkin was a favorite of both master and mistress, and slept at night in their room.
  • 1927 - H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
    Very quietly therefore did Randolph Carter steal to the edge of the wood and send the cry of the cat over the starlit fields. And a great grimalkin in a nearby cottage took up the burden and relayed it across leagues of rolling meadow to warriors large and small, black, grey, tiger, white, yellow, and mixed, and it echoed through Nir and beyond the Skai even into Ulthar, and Ulthar's numerous cats called in chorus and fell into a line of march.