from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A widely distributed butterfly (Cynthia cardui syn. Vanessa cardui) having brown, black, and orange markings.
  • noun A house, especially a Victorian house, having decorative trim painted in several colors.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The thistle-butterfly, Vanessa (or Pyrameis) cardui, of an orange-red color spotted with white and black. See cut in next column.
  • noun The sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A cryptic patterned butterfly, Vanessa cardui, of the family Nymphalidae.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • I always thought this was an archaic euphemism for a prostitute. Can't find any citations right now though.

    March 1, 2013

  • "We're always looking for new Painted Ladies: Victorians painted in three or more colors that highlight the architecture's ruffles and flourishes."


    That's Victorian (and Edwardian) houses and buildings. A few in the visuals.

    March 1, 2013

  • it's a 1997 movie title and several book titles.

    I remember seeing a movie in the 70's where it referred to a tattooed lady.

    Criminal Slang: The Vernacular of the Underground Lingo (1913) - Page 170

    March 1, 2013