adjective mer·e·tri·cious \ˌmer-ə-ˈtri-shəs\

: attractive in a cheap or false way

Full Definition of MERETRICIOUS

:  of or relating to a prostitute :  having the nature of prostitution <meretricious relationships>
a :  tawdrily and falsely attractive <the paradise they found was a piece of meretricious trash — Carolyn See>
b :  superficially significant :  pretentious <scholarly names to provide fig-leaves of respectability for meretricious but stylish books — Times Literary Supplement>
mer·e·tri·cious·ly adverb
mer·e·tri·cious·ness noun


Latin meretricius, from meretric-, meretrix prostitute, from merēre to earn — more at merit
First Known Use: 1626

Synonym Discussion of MERETRICIOUS

gaudy, tawdry, garish, flashy, meretricious mean vulgarly or cheaply showy. gaudy implies a tasteless use of overly bright, often clashing colors or excessive ornamentation <circus performers in gaudy costumes>. tawdry applies to what is at once gaudy and cheap and sleazy <tawdry saloons>. garish describes what is distressingly or offensively bright <garish neon signs>. flashy implies an effect of brilliance quickly and easily seen to be shallow or vulgar <a flashy nightclub act>. meretricious stresses falsity and may describe a tawdry show that beckons with a false allure or promise <a meretricious wasteland of casinos and bars>.


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