A word derived from various sources and with different meanings at various times.
1) From the Anglo-Saxon cyrtel and Old Norse kyrtill, a tunic. Refers to a man's tunic or body garment from the early centuries AD until about 1500.
2) From the Danish and Swedish kjortel, a gown, skirt or petticoat. From the late tenth century until the nineteenth, des- cribes a gown or underskirt. From the late sixteenth century onwards the meaning of petticoat seems to have replaced that of undergown or underskirt.
3) Sometimes the word kirtle is used in the sense of a coat but this is generally a figurative reference. Kissing strings The strings for tying a ladies' bonnet or cap under the chin.