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

Rather than end a sordid and difficult time for the department, the criminal trials and plea bargains produced evidence that’s now exposing the city to potentially devastating civil damages, records show. John Holland,, "Police officers on Baltimore’s tainted Gun Trace Task Force are locked up. But the lawsuits keep pouring in.," 7 Sep. 2019 Guided by the tastes of critics and academics, the museums and galleries fill up with the ugly, the sordid, the cruel, the bilious, the strange. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Now Renoir Is Problematic," 27 Aug. 2019 Leman says that as the word gets out in the sordid spoofing community about his Super-Duper Anti-Spoofing law, crooks will be less likely to call Texans. Dallas News, "How you can use Texas’ new ‘Super-Duper Anti-Spoofing Law' to stop phone scammers from calling you," 25 July 2019 Subjects have run the gamut from the very plausible (intelligence failures around 9/11) to gleefully nutty (the moon is secretly hollow) to the sad and sordid (Jeffrey Epstein and the history of pedophiles in government). Los Angeles Times, "In the Trump era, a comedy podcast about conspiracy theories finds a home in the mainstream," 19 July 2019 Patriots owner Robert Kraft: He's largely been off the grid since getting ensnared in that sordid mess in Florida. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "2019 NFL season: 100 names to know as Week 1 kicks off," 8 Sep. 2019 The anonymous motion seeking to keep the records sealed underscored the sordid nature of the allegations against Mr. Epstein and the fear of people in his social circles that their standing could be harmed by any links to him. Amy Julia Harris, New York Times, "Jeffrey Epstein Case: Over 1,000 People Connected to Him in Address Book," 4 Sep. 2019 In over his head, under duress, and tempted by his old weaknesses, Don soon discovers that the house has its own dark, sordid history and won’t be so easy to renovate after all. Clark Collis,, "Girl on the Third Floor," 28 Aug. 2019 Everything about the story, of course, is the stuff of the most sordid fiction. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Don’t Drown in Epstein and Other Darkness," 19 Aug. 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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Statistics for sordid

Last Updated

7 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for sordid

The first known use of sordid was in 1606

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More Definitions for sordid



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

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

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