a skirt made of tartan cloth that reaches to the knees and is traditionally worn by Scottish men; a similar skirt worn by women CulturetartanTartan is a traditional woollen cloth from Scotland that has patterns of squares and lines woven in various colours. Patterns depended originally on dyes (= colours) available from local plants, so each area developed its own tartan. Tartans were not at first associated with a particular clan (= social group). From the late 18th century, Scottish regiments wore different tartans as an identifying feature, and the design of an individual tartan for each clan followed soon afterwards. The most famous tartans include ‘Black Watch’, the tartan of the Royal Highland Regiment, which is black and dark green, and ‘Royal Stuart’, the mainly red tartan of the royal family.Scotsmen may wear a kilt (= a man's skirt with pleats that reaches to the knees) and sometimes a plaid (= cloak), or simply a tie, in their clan's tartan. Apart from those who work in the tourist industry, few Scots wear tartan as part of their ordinary clothing. Men wear kilts when taking part in Scottish dancing displays or for formal occasions such as weddings.Many Scots consider it wrong to wear the tartan of a clan to which they do not belong, but this has not prevented tartan, or tartan-like patterns, becoming fashionable in Britain and abroad. For some people tartan has romantic associations with Scotland's history and its wild and beautiful countryside. Women's kilts, skirts and dresses, as well as scarves, bags, travelling rugs, and many other articles, are made in tartan patterns. Goods sold to tourists, such as tins of shortbread biscuits, are decorated with tartan patterns to indicate their origin. Word Origin Middle English (as a verb in the sense ‘tuck up around the body’): of Scandinavian origin; compare with Danish kilte (op)
‘tuck (up)’ and Old Norse kilting ‘a skirt’. The noun dates from the mid 18th cent.