Origin of catawampusfrom uncertain or unknown; perhaps
An example of something catawampus is a situation that has gone completely out of control.
(comparative more catawampus, superlative most catawampus)
In the fierce sense probably from catamount (mountain cat).
The crooked sense may at least partly derive from the same source as the "cater" in cater-corner, which some would derive from Middle French catre (“four”)- in reference to four corners/square- from Old French quatre (“four”), from Latin quattuor. This is disputed by others, who suggest a possible Old Norse or other Scandinavian origin. See cater-corner and cater-corner for more.