gar·​ish ˈger-ish How to pronounce garish (audio)
: clothed in vivid colors
a garish clown
: excessively or disturbingly vivid
garish colors
garish imagery
: offensively or distressingly bright : glaring
: tastelessly showy : flashy
garish neon signs
garishly adverb
garishness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for garish

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

Examples of garish in a Sentence

the wedding guest's thick makeup was garish and unnecessary
Recent Examples on the Web In all of comics, there is no rogue’s gallery more garish, more inspired, or more maniacal than the Joker, Two-Face, the Penguin, and the Scarecrow. Josh Weiss, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 Lighting can also make a room look garish or dated. Charlotte Observer, 30 Jan. 2024 The Canadian athleisure brand just unveiled a basketball game that eschews garish colors and kitsch branding in favor of an elegant, minimalist design. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 30 Jan. 2024 And the bullfight backdrop of the finale is here reimagined as a rodeo, complete with clowns wearing garish costumes sewn from Texas-esque flags. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 1 Jan. 2024 To be garish and to be ridiculed were twin fates that Woolf, too self-conscious to feel comfortable traveling on public transport, was anxious to avoid. Ruth Scurr, WSJ, 29 Dec. 2023 These tiered plateaus of crushed ice, their rising stories chockablock with fruits de mer and accessories thereto, are at once sophisticated and garish—the sweet, saline subtlety of chilled seafood; the shameless absurdity of its architectural opulence. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 17 Dec. 2023 He’s surrounded by a garish commercial spectacle that leaves him empty and depressed. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 14 Dec. 2023 But Pangaea’s first album in seven years mixes both, perking to life with meticulous beats before detonating hooks from the garish ends of house, rave, and speed garage. Pitchfork, 5 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'garish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of garish was in 1545

Dictionary Entries Near garish

Cite this Entry

“Garish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


gar·​ish ˈga(ə)r-ish How to pronounce garish (audio)
: too bright or showy : gaudy
garishly adverb
garishness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on garish

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