Call a woman a tart and she'll take offence, and rightly so. There are two current meanings for a female tart, both derogatory: 1. a prostitute, or a promiscuous woman 2. an offensive slang term for a girl or woman. But it wasn't always the case. For the best part of the last hundred years, calling a woman a tart was not necessarily an insult. In fact, the use of tart implying admiration or affection for a woman was first recorded in Standard English in 1864, in Hotten's Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words: Tart, a term of approval applied by the London lower orders to a young woman for whom some affection is felt. The expression is not generally employed by the young men unless the female is in 'her best', with a coloured gown, red or blue shawl, and plenty of ribbons in her bonnet - in fact, made pretty all over, like the jam tarts in the swell bakers' shops. In Australia too this sense of tart occurs: From The Bulletin, 1905: We 'ad a tart staying at our place once what 'ad the beautifulest 'ead uf 'air yer ever sighted. From Arthur Upfield, 1937: I'm in love with a tart. Her name's Lucy Jelly. She is the loveliest girl within a thousand miles of Burracoppin. From Frederick Mills, 1924: I was on with a taxi-driver named Phyllis. Now, she was the neatest tart outside of a baker's shop... She 'ad the bonzerest ankles I ever seen. Unique to Australian English is the use of tart to mean a girlfriend or sweetheart. The Australian National Dictionary records this meaning from 1892: From the Sydney Truth, 1892: They were very fond of music, were this baldy and his 'tart'. From The Bulletin, 1894: It may be merely the affectionate anxiety of a 'bloke' for his 'tart'. Tart as a woman of easy virtue is first recorded in 1887. Although George Orwell comments in 1931 that `this word now seems absolutely interchangeable with "girl", with no implication of "prostitute". People will speak of their daughter or sister as a tart', by this time the bad tart had largely overtaken the good tart. Interestingly, the two meanings had coexisted for the best part of a century. The good tart was last seen in the OED in 1980, while the tart as girlfriend makes her final appearance in the AND in 1977. Where did tart come from? There is some dispute over this. The OED (1989) tells us that it is a figurative use of the culinary tart, as the quotations from Hotten and Mills suggest. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1993) says it is probably an abbreviation of sweetheart; but The Australian National Dictionarythinks it is likely to be an abbreviation of jam tart, itself probably at one time rhyming slang for sweetheart.

Australian idioms. 2014.

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  • Tart — Tart, a. [AS. teart. [root]63. Cf. {Tear}, v. t.] 1. Sharp to the taste; acid; sour; as, a tart apple. [1913 Webster] 2. Fig.: Sharp; keen; severe; as, a tart reply; tart language; a tart rebuke. [1913 Webster] Why art thou tart, my brother?… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tart — tart·ish; tart·let; tart·ly; tart·ness; van·sit·tart·ism; tart; tart·ish·ly; …   English syllables

  • tart — tart1 [tärt] adj. [ME < OE teart < PGmc * trat < IE base * der > TEAR1] 1. sharp in taste; sour; acid; acidulous 2. sharp in meaning or implication; cutting [a tart answer] SYN. SOUR tartly adv. tartness n …   English World dictionary

  • tart — Ⅰ. tart [1] ► NOUN ▪ an open pastry case containing a sweet or savoury filling. DERIVATIVES tartlet noun. ORIGIN Old French tarte. Ⅱ. tart [2] ► …   English terms dictionary

  • Tart — Solicita una imagen para este artículo. Título Tart Ficha técnica …   Wikipedia Español

  • tart — [adj] bitter, sour in taste or effect acerb, acerbic, acetose, acid, acidulous, acrimonious, astringent, barbed, biting, caustic, cutting, dry, harsh, nasty, piquant, pungent, scathing, sharp, short, snappish, snappy, snippy, tangy, testy,… …   New thesaurus

  • Tart — Tart, n. [OE. tarte, F. tarte; perhaps originally the same word as tourte, LL. torta, fr. L. tortus, p. p. of torquere to twist, bend, wind, because tarts were originally made of a twisted shape. Cf. {Torture}, n.] A species of small open pie, or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tart|y — «TAHR tee», adjective. Informal. of or like a tart; sharp; snippy …   Useful english dictionary

  • tart — Abreviatura del anión tartrato carboxilado. Diccionario Mosby Medicina, Enfermería y Ciencias de la Salud, Ediciones Hancourt, S.A. 1999 …   Diccionario médico

  • tart — index astringent, bitter (acrid tasting), caustic Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • târţ — interj. v. pârţ. Trimis de siveco, 13.09.2007. Sursa: Sinonime …   Dicționar Român

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