sor·​did | \ ˈsȯr-dəd How to pronounce sordid (audio) \

Definition of sordid

1 : marked by baseness or grossness : vile sordid motives
3 : meanly avaricious : covetous
4 : of a dull or muddy color

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Other Words from sordid

sordidly adverb
sordidness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sordid

mean, ignoble, abject, sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity. mean and petty satire ignoble suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit. an ignoble scramble after material possessions abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility. abject poverty sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness. a sordid story of murder and revenge

Examples of sordid in a Sentence

And Vermes's story is also in part an international thriller, especially with the high-level goings-on around the Scrolls. The full sordid tale of spite, scholarly selfishness, and undisguised anti-Semitism, which kept access to the Dead Sea texts restricted for decades to a tiny cartel, unwinds in his pages. — Paula Fredriksen, New Republic, 15 Oct. 2001 Another reporter working to verify the book's charges ended up unmasking author James Hatfield's sordid past, revealing how little the publisher knew about its author … — Jennifer Greenstein, Brill's Content, February 2000 In fact, audiences now have become so blasé about accounts of celebrities' sordid personal lives that some stars are turning potential publicity nightmares into confessional coups. — Stephen Rebello, Vibe, May 1999 He shared the sordid details of his past. he managed to rise above the sordid streets upon which he grew up
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Recent Examples on the Web As the year comes to a close many travelers are making the final descent to Ghana for the conclusion of the ‘Year of Return’ — an initiative by the president of Ghana marking a major milestone in the sordid history of Black slavery. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "Ghana Is Great, But Here Are 6 African Countries You Also Need To Visit," 24 Dec. 2019 The Bowery reference made the area seem rather seedy and sordid, conjuring up images of barroom brawls, prostitution, roustabouts and gambling houses. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "St. Elmo is the only remnant of The Levee's posh and bawdy past," 5 Dec. 2019 Meantime, members of the group killed in the brutal attack belonged to a Mormon offshoot with a sordid history that has been touched by cartel violence before. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "Kentucky's governor seat goes blue, Gordon Sondland's reversal and suspect arrested in Mexico: The Morning Rundown," 6 Nov. 2019 But the report fills in one of the largest gaps remaining within the entire, sordid saga: Why did the NRA leadership play along so willingly? Casey Michel, The New Republic, "How the NRA Sold Out America," 2 Oct. 2019 Painting over our sordid past does harm to all of us. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Painting over our sordid past does harm to all of us," 8 July 2019 This is further evidence that this whole sordid saga was never about the truth. Orrin Hatch, WSJ, "Brett Kavanaugh’s Righteous Anger," 2 Oct. 2018 The case galvanized public attention with its sordid look at the grim underside of teen life in Mat-Su. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Third teen convicted of murder in David Grunwald’s 2016 killing," 9 Oct. 2019 Who tells, in sordid detail, of the abuses that occurred years ago, and damn every facility for the shameful events at Pennhurst State School in 1968? John Hirschauer, National Review, "Pennsylvania’s Facility Closures Hurt the Mentally Disabled," 26 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sordid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sordid

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sordid

Latin sordidus, from sordes dirt — more at swart

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Time Traveler for sordid

Time Traveler

The first known use of sordid was in 1606

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Statistics for sordid

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sordid.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for sordid


How to pronounce sordid (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sordid

: very bad or dishonest
: very dirty


sor·​did | \ ˈsȯr-dəd How to pronounce sordid (audio) \

Kids Definition of sordid

1 : very dirty : filthy sordid surroundings
2 : of low moral quality a sordid life

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More from Merriam-Webster on sordid

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sordid

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sordid

Spanish Central: Translation of sordid

Nglish: Translation of sordid for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sordid

What made you want to look up sordid? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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