adjective vul·gar \ ˈvəl-gər \
|Updated on: 28 Jun 2018

Definition of vulgar

1 a : lacking in cultivation, perception, or taste : coarse
b : morally crude, undeveloped, or unregenerate : gross
c : ostentatious or excessive in expenditure or display : pretentious
2 a : offensive in language : earthy
b : lewdly or profanely indecent
3 a : generally used, applied, or accepted
b : understood in or having the ordinary sense
  • they reject the vulgar conception of miracle
  • —W. R. Inge
4 : vernacular
  • the vulgar name of a plant
5 a : of or relating to the common people : plebeian
b : generally current : public
  • the vulgar opinion of that time
c : of the usual, typical, or ordinary kind



Examples of vulgar in a Sentence

  1. He was a vulgar man.

  2. She had a coarse, vulgar laugh.

  3. I will not tolerate such vulgar language in my home.

Recent Examples of vulgar from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vulgar.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of vulgar

Middle English, from Latin vulgaris of the mob, vulgar, from volgus, vulgus mob, common people

Synonym Discussion of vulgar

common, ordinary, plain, familiar, popular, vulgar mean generally met with and not in any way special, strange, or unusual. common implies usual everyday quality or frequency of occurrence
    • a common error
    • lacked common honesty
and may additionally suggest inferiority or coarseness.
    • common manners
ordinary stresses conformance in quality or kind with the regular order of things.
    • an ordinary pleasant summer day
    • a very ordinary sort of man
plain is likely to suggest homely simplicity.
    • plain hard-working people
familiar stresses the fact of being generally known and easily recognized.
    • a familiar melody
popular applies to what is accepted by or prevalent among people in general sometimes in contrast to upper classes or special groups.
    • a writer of popular romances
vulgar, otherwise similar to popular, is likely to carry derogatory connotations (as of inferiority or coarseness).
    • souvenirs designed to appeal to the vulgar taste
coarse, vulgar, gross, obscene, ribald mean offensive to good taste or morals. coarse implies roughness, rudeness, or crudeness of spirit, behavior, or language.
    • found the coarse humor of coworkers offensive
vulgar often implies boorishness or ill-breeding.
    • a loud vulgar belch
gross implies extreme coarseness and insensitiveness.
    • gross eating habits
obscene applies to anything strongly repulsive to the sense of decency and propriety especially in sexual matters.
    • obscene language not allowed on the air
ribald applies to what is amusingly or picturesquely vulgar or irreverent or mildly indecent.
    • entertained the campers with ribald folk songs

VULGAR Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of vulgar for English Language Learners

  • : not having or showing good manners, good taste, or politeness

  • : relating to the common people or the speech of common people

VULGAR Defined for Kids


adjective vul·gar \ ˈvəl-gər \

Definition of vulgar for Students

1 : having or showing poor taste or manners : coarse
  • vulgar table manners
2 : offensive in language or subject matter
  • a vulgar joke

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