Catawampus

Meaning

What does Catawampus mean?

Catawampus (also known as cattywampus) is an adjective of various meanings.

In dialectical use, the expression refers to fierce, savage or destructive things.

Mythical creatures often have this feature. Catawampus can sometimes be the name of a creature of this sort.

It can also be the synonym of the word “bogey”.

In a more literal sense, the adjective can refer to curved, diagonical and askew shapes or objects.

Origin

What's the origin of Catawampus?

The expression’s initial meaning “askew, diagonal,” was first recorded in the mid-19th century.

It is believed to be an American colloquial term, influenced by another expression “cater- in cater-cornered” (or “kitty-corner”) and “wampish”, a Scottish word for “flopping about.”

Spread & Usage

How did Catawampus spread?

The expression was only used in certain dialects of southern U.S. until the second half of the 20th century.

Today, it features in various children’s tales and illustrations, often depicted as a cat-like creature.

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