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a type of traditional Scottish clothing, similar to a skirt, worn by men

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun kilt was first used in English in the 18th century. It comes from the much older verb to kilt, meaning to tuck up, which is of Scandinavian origin.


The Scottish kilt is descended from the traditional dress of men and boys living in the Scottish Highlands. It originally consisted of a full-length garment whose upper part could be used as a cloak, taking on its current form in the 18th century. Following the Jacobite risings in the late 17th and early 18th centuries the wearing of the kilt was banned for over thirty years because it was associated with the Highland clans who had mostly supported the restoration of the Catholic House of Stuart to the throne of the United Kingdom. Modern kilts are made of wool and are flat at the front and pleated at the back. They require a large amount of fabric, and come in a very wide range of tartan patterns, each pattern being associated with a particular Scottish clan. The kilt is still worn as formal and ceremonial dress by Scottish regiments and on formal occasions by men throughout Scotland. Indeed, a 2016 poll revealed that over two thirds of Scottish men said they had worn a kilt at least once.


“I lost the accent years ago, but I’m still very proud to be Scottish, and I love wearing a kilt.”
(Steve Valentine)

Related words

plaid, sporran, tartan

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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