Kitty-corner (Re: the nit and gritty)

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Aug 7 19:25:17 UTC 2013

On Aug 7, 2013, at 12:02 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:

> On Aug 7, 2013, at 2:51 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> FWIW, Wiktionary ( and from resulting links) has the following forms:
>> cater-cornered, catercorner
>> catty-corner, cattycorner, caddy-corner, katty-corner
>> catty-cornered, cattycornered, caddy-cornered, katty-cornered
>> kitty-corner, kittycorner
>> kitty-cornered, kittycornered
>> cattywampus, catawampus, kittywampus, skewampus, askew
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Seattle, WA
> --originally, we're told, from "cater" as in "quatre", although I'm not clear on how it got from 'four-cornered' to 'diagonally opposite'.  So the two-stage shift from "cater-cornered" > "catty-/kitty-cornered" > "kitten cornered", if it caught on, would be a bit like "jonakin" > "johnny-cake" > "journey cake", a "correction" or etymythology of an earlier folk-etymology.

It took me four attempts to find the word on the OED in the form "cater-cornered." That's the only etymology they provide.

Wiktionary ( says that in addition to that, another possibility is that "cater" comes from North German, meaning crooked or angled.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

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