Tatterdemalion (tat-er-di-meyl-yuhn) is an adjective that means a person in tattered clothing. A shabby person. Someone who is ragged and unkempt. Sometimes when I work out in my yard, I might look like a tatterdemalion. My work clothes are unkempt and has lots of stains and holes in them. A homeless person sometimes look like a tatterdemalion – unkempt, unshaven (for men), greasy hair, old and dirty clothing.
Mothers are forever trying to keep their children (and sometimes their husbands) from being a tatterdemalion. Moms encourage (read that to mean nag) their kids to pick their clothes off the floor and put in the wash so the kids can have clean, unwrinkled clothing. (It’s sad when the style is to look disheveled, wrinkled, and unkempt!) Moms try to instill a level of personal dignity, a level of good personal grooming, in their children. Why dress like a tatterdemalion when you aren’t one??
Disheveled is a word similar to tatterdemalion. (But tatterdemalion is more fun to use!) Disheveled (di-shev–uhld) is an adjective that means untidy, disarranged, rumpled, messy, sloppy, slovenly. You can have disheveled hair (wild and uncombed) or disheveled clothes (like you’ve been sleeping in them for a month). You can have a stack of disheveled papers – a stack that is not tidy, not neatly arranged, and very messy. A room could be disheveled (messy). A yard could be disheveled (looking like the junk yard instead of a picture from Better Homes and Garden!)
It makes you wonder if tatterdemalion folks have disheveled houses and yards . . . .