sor·​did | \ ˈsȯr-dəd \

Definition of sordid

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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The sordid affair erupted into public view on Monday when it was revealed that NYCHA general manager Vito Mustaciuolo ordered the entire staff at Throggs Neck — roughly 40 people — be transferred to other developments. Fox News, "NYC Housing Authority suspends employees over alleged workplace orgies," 30 Aug. 2018 More than anything, Dykstra wants to present himself as the ultimate cleanup hitter, an unsung hero (OK, antihero) who in selfless service of a buddy went up against Hollywood's most sordid retinue. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood's Most Toxic Bromance: The Implosion of Charlie Sheen and Lenny Dykstra," 7 Feb. 2018 This is someone who had a long history of sordid misconduct. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "After 20,000 workers walked out, Google said it got the message. The workers disagree.," 21 Nov. 2018 The idea, almost certainly fantasy, of Lovato shooting up in her Hollywood Hills mansion was more sordid than anything anyone had yet to understand about her addiction. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Amy Winehouse Is Finally Free in a New Book of Photographs," 10 Aug. 2018 In the weeks that followed, reporters would uncover more sordid details from his past. Shanon Lee, Good Housekeeping, "My Husband Cheating Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," 22 June 2015 Though bookstores were once among my favorite places to spend time, ever since my own book was published eight months ago, trips into bookstores have mutated into sordid affairs. Lauren Markham, Longreads, "For Me, With Love and Squalor," 7 June 2018 But the more sordid details of Hamilton’s death came out when Jenkins gave a jailhouse interview Wednesday. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Ex-con was on cocaine, PCP when ‘voices’ told him to kill his 79-year-old mom, Texas cops say," 12 July 2018 USA TODAY Sports Had the sordid details not emerged, a casual observer would never guess that Jerry Richardson was relinquishing ownership of the Carolina Panthers in disgrace. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Carolina Panthers sale becomes official, but Jerry Richardson offers no apology," 9 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sordid

Dictionary Entries near sordid








Statistics for sordid

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sordid

The first known use of sordid was in 1606

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sordid



English Language Learners Definition of sordid

: very bad or dishonest

: very dirty


sor·​did | \ ˈsȯr-dəd \

Kids Definition of sordid

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on sordid

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sordid

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


means, resources, or money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!