(dial.) Askew; awry.
The definition of catawampus is awry.
An example of something catawampus is a situation that has gone completely out of control.
Origin of catawampus
- 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.
- In the fierce sense probably from catamount (mountain cat).