Definition of meretricious
1 : of or relating to a prostitute : having the nature of prostitution meretricious relationships
2a : tawdrily and falsely attractive the paradise they found was a piece of meretricious trash — Carolyn Seeb : superficially (see superficial 2) significant : pretentious scholarly names to provide fig-leaves of respectability for meretricious but stylish books — The Times Literary Supplement (London)
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Recent Examples of meretricious from the Web
Lindsey Graham was particularly meretricious in this regard, using loose talk from previous Democratic senators on the subject as a counterweight to what his party actually did.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meretricious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Meretricious can be traced back to the Latin verb merēre, meaning "to earn, gain, or deserve." It shares this origin with a small group of other English words, including "merit," meritorious," and "emeritus." But, while these words can suggest some degree of honor or esteem, "meretricious" is used to suggest pretense, insincerity, and cheap or tawdry ornamentation. The Latin merēre is at the root of the Latin noun meretrix, meaning "prostitute," and its related adjective "meretricius" ("of or relating to a prostitute"). The Latin meretricius entered into English as "meretricious" in the 17th century. Shortly after being adopted, "meretricious" also began to be used to indicate things which are superficially attractive but which have little or no value or integrity.
Synonym Discussion of meretricious
MERETRICIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of meretricious for English Language Learners
: attractive in a cheap or false way
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