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Interesting Words And Expressions – Cattywampus

What does cattywampus mean?

It is an adjective and an adverb and means askew or awry; positioned diagonally or cater-cornered.

How do you pronounce it?

kat′ə wämpəs

or [kat-ee-wom-puh s]

Where does it come from?

Long ago English gamblers called the four-dotted side of a die cater (from the French quatre, “four”). The placement of those four dots suggested two diagonal lines, which is likely how cater came to mean (dialectally, anyway) “to place, move, or cut across diagonally.”

Catercorner (later kitty-corner) and caterwampus –and eventually cattywampus –followed.

How do you use it?

Measure carefully before cutting, or the entire building will be cattywampus.

City hall is cattywampus to the post office.


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