\ ˈtwē How to pronounce twee (audio) \

Definition of twee

chiefly British
: affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint such a theme might sound twee or cornyThe Times Literary Supplement (London)

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Twee and Baby Talk

Most adults wouldn't be caught dead saying, "Oh, look at the twee little birdie!" but they probably wouldn't be averse to saying: "He went fishing with his dad," "She works as a nanny," or "Hey, buddy, how's it going?" Anyone who uses dad, nanny, or buddy owes a debt to "baby talk," a term used for both the childish speech adults adopt when addressing youngsters and for the speech of small children who are just learning to talk. Twee also originated in baby talk as an alteration of sweet. In the early 1900s, it was a term of affection, but nowadays British speakers and writers—and, increasingly, Americans as well—use twee for things that have passed beyond agreeable and into the realm of cloying.

Examples of twee in a Sentence

The movie was a bit twee for my taste.
Recent Examples on the Web So many of the trippy albums from the psychedelic era sound today like a sort of twee playacting — as if frilling up a song with sound effects and singing about gnomes constituted true trippiness. Vulture Editors, Vulture, "101 Trippy Movies, Albums, Books, TV Shows, and More.," 20 Apr. 2021 Kelley and Lorey smartly balance elements that will appeal to teens and adults alike, avoiding too many twee moments without going over the heads of the tweens who’ve historically been the core audience for most live-action Disney shows. Judy Berman, Time, "Big Shot Is a Surprisingly Lovable Sports Drama From Franchise-Crazy Disney+," 16 Apr. 2021 Still, what pushed things over the top was the addition of a pastel pair of vintage roller-skates, an unapologetically twee add-on that made for a series of memorable posts on Bravo’s social media. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "This Week, the Best Dressed Stars Indulged in Flights of Fancy," 1 Mar. 2021 Madlib finds rhythm in the twirl of a flamenco guitar and in songs from the twitchy, twee U.K. post-punk band the Young Marble Giants. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Obsessive Beat-Making of Madlib," 18 Jan. 2021 The conceit sounds twee, but Torres’s delivery has the matter-of-factness of a child describing the secret lives of his toys. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "The Otherworldly Comedy of Julio Torres," 21 Dec. 2020 Popular styles featured twee pastels, punchy neons, floral prints and, of course, the classic white leather models. Leigh-ann Jackson, Los Angeles Times, "Wheel good fun: How old-school roller skates became the perfect pandemic pastime," 11 Dec. 2020 Tone indicators are most popular within some Twitter and Tumblr communities of young people with overlapping interests in identity representation, anime and K-pop fandom, twee aesthetics, and sensitivity toward mental health and gender issues. New York Times, "Tone Is Hard to Grasp Online. Can Tone Indicators Help?," 9 Dec. 2020 But there is a narrative chasm between the twee and borderless dreamscape of fantasy Britain and actual, material Britain, where rents are rising and racists are running brave. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Tea, Biscuits, and Empire: The Long Con of Britishness," 10 Aug. 2020

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

1905, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for twee

baby-talk alteration of sweet

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Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Twee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of twee

chiefly British, informal + disapproving : sweet or cute in a way that is silly or sentimental

More from Merriam-Webster on twee

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for twee

Nglish: Translation of twee for Spanish Speakers

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