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 Dixie D'Amelio stepped out in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening looking elegant in a simple look that's equal parts dark academia and the twee aesthetic. Briannah Rivera, Seventeen, 18 Jan. 2023 The twee co-working space, which closed up shop in August, was sued in October for $1.7 million in back rent on its 52 Mercer location. Adriane Quinlan, Curbed, 12 Dec. 2022 The concept of a Hobbit House may sound twee, but the hideaway—with a flourishing meadow on the roof—is more like something out of a Grand Designs episode than a gimmick. Lauren Burvill, Condé Nast Traveler, 19 May 2022 This offends me on many levels, not least the deployment of the twee word fancy. Jay McInerney, Town & Country, 8 Dec. 2022 The twee etiquette of the period is putty in her hands. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 4 Dec. 2022 Social media was flooded by images of Paddington Bear as a twee ferryman to Hades, leading the sovereign off the mortal coil. Leila Latif, Chron, 5 Nov. 2022 Sandy Liang and Coach showcased classic and twee versions—the latter opting for iconic styling with socks. Laura Lajiness Kaupke, Harper's BAZAAR, 1 Oct. 2022 What could have been twee and uninvolving is in fact heartwarming and enthralling. Malcolm Forbes, Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'twee.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


baby-talk alteration of sweet

First Known Use

1905, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of twee was in 1905


Dictionary Entries Near twee

Cite this Entry

“Twee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

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