tawdry

adjective
taw·​dry | \ˈtȯ-drē, ˈtä-\
tawdrier; tawdriest

Definition of tawdry 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: cheap and gaudy in appearance or quality also : ignoble a tawdry attempt to smear his opponent

tawdry

noun

Definition of tawdry (Entry 2 of 2)

: cheap showy finery

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tawdry

Adjective

tawdrily \ˈtȯ-​drə-​lē, ˈtä-​ \ adverb
tawdriness \ˈtȯ-​drē-​nəs, ˈtä-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for tawdry

Adjective

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

Did You Know?

Adjective

In the 7th century, Etheldreda, the queen of Northumbria, renounced her husband and her royal position for the veil of a nun. She was renowned for her saintliness and is traditionally said to have died of a swelling in her throat, which she took as a judgment upon her fondness for wearing necklaces in her youth. Her shrine became a principal site of pilgrimage in England. An annual fair was held in her honor on October 17th, and her name became simplified to St. Audrey. At these fairs various kinds of cheap knickknacks were sold, along with a type of necklace called St. Audrey's lace, which by the 17th century had become altered to tawdry lace. Eventually, tawdry came to be used to describe anything cheap and gaudy that might be found at these fairs or anywhere else.

Examples of tawdry in a Sentence

Adjective

The scandal was a tawdry affair.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Even eggs worth three or four thousand dollars looked tawdry and cheap. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "The Story of the Incredible Paris Apartment in The Romanoffs Episode 1," 12 Oct. 2018 On its own, the tale is sick and tawdry and sadly familiar: A priest who molests boys becomes a bishop who takes advantage of seminarians and who then goes on to be awarded a cardinal’s hat by a hierarchy looking the other way. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "When the Cardinal Sins," 30 July 2018 My dotty building was home not only to the tawdry and the drunken, but also the homicidal. Michael Milton, New York Times, "Hotel Belleclaire: A Dowager on the Rise," 12 Jan. 2018 No matter what revelations come to mind, some of these comments were so tawdry and almost childish. Fox News, "Former agent fires back at calls to abolish ICE," 30 June 2018 But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes and ball gowns. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, "Justice Department Dismisses Corruption Case Against Menendez," 31 Jan. 2018 In a Thoreauvian vein, Mr. Dann’s first chapter laments the tawdry excesses of American prosperity. Kelly Scott Franklin, WSJ, "‘The Road to Walden’ Review: Peripatetic Ponderings," 12 July 2018 Even though plenty of people now meet long-term partners or spouses on Tinder—just peruse the New York Times wedding pages for proof—the brand’s tawdry image has stuck. Leigh Gallagher, Fortune, "Match Is the Sweetheart of Online Dating—But Can It Fend Off Facebook and Bumble?," 27 June 2018 With his high-low pedigree, Cooper proved well-suited to this story, a tawdry tabloid tale that also happens to have potentially enormous political ramifications. Meredith Blake, latimes.com, "How Stormy Daniels' candor and humor in her '60 Minutes' interview showed 'a woman to be reckoned with'," 26 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tawdry.' 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 tawdry

Adjective

1655, in the meaning defined above

Noun

circa 1680, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tawdry

Adjective

tawdry lace a tie of lace for the neck, from St. Audrey (St. Etheldreda) †679 queen of Northumbria

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tawdry

Listen to Our Podcast about tawdry

Dictionary Entries near tawdry

taw

tawa

Tawasa

tawdry

tawdry lace

tawer

tawery

Statistics for tawdry

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tawdry

The first known use of tawdry was in 1655

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tawdry

tawdry

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of tawdry

: having a cheap and ugly appearance

: morally low or bad

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tawdry

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tawdry

Spanish Central: Translation of tawdry

Nglish: Translation of tawdry for Spanish Speakers

Comments on tawdry

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

WORD OF THE DAY

living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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