Because this is for me and not for any anonymous audience, I am not going to introduce myself in the first post. Instead, I'm going to copy and paste the entry for tatterdemallion from the OED:
tatterdemalion, -demallionAnd from dictionary.com, justifying my spelling of the word in the URL and its deviancy from the modern one L spelling:
[f. TATTER n.1, or more prob. TATTERED a., with a factitious element suggesting an ethnic or descriptive derivative. The earlier pronunciation rimes with battalion, Italian, stallion, as shown by the frequent doubling of l.]
A person in tattered clothing; a ragged or beggarly fellow; a ragamuffin.
[Origin: 1600–10; first written tatter-de-malliani> and rhymed with Italian; sepan>e TATTER; -de-malliani> < ?]I first came across the word tatterdemalion in Micheline Aharonian Marcom's brilliant and heartbreaking chronicle of the Armenian genocide, Three Apples Fell From Heaven. I was in the hospital when I read the book, far away from my beloved Oxford English Dictionary, but who needs a dictionary for a word like this? It sounds like what it means, it breathes personality, it dances on the tongue. And Marcom uses it in the absolute best way possible:
Rumor tells stories, this is the story she writes. Don't believe her, she's a liar of the first order. A mendacious tatterdemalion. A middle of the night whisperer. She follows you and circles your head like stinging bees in late summer. she is disjointed, disorderly, malapropos. She begins in the middle, she stops and starts; she is a wanderer. When you look for her you cannot see her. Rumor says: Noah is my father and Japeth is my father and Haik walked down the slopes of Mount Ararat and squatted under the cypress to build a fire with still green leaves. In 1915. Or in 520 B.C., an inscription in stone of Darius I at Behistun. With breath there is always a beginning. A neonate lies on the sand, she is the founder of the nation. Rumor says, I am the founder of this nation. And so, and soThe book haunts me on every level possible even now, half a year after I read it, and that phrase has become one of my favourites. Mendacious tatterdemalion! Beautiful beautiful beautiful.
Three Apples Fell from Heaven, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Pg 1