as in conspicuous
formal + disapproving attractive in a cheap or false way meretricious beauty lacking in any real substance

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How does the adjective meretricious contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of meretricious are flashy, garish, gaudy, and tawdry. While all these words mean "vulgarly or cheaply showy," meretricious stresses falsity and may describe a tawdry show that beckons with a false allure or promise.

a meretricious wasteland of casinos and bars

When is it sensible to use flashy instead of meretricious?

The words flashy and meretricious are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, flashy implies an effect of brilliance quickly and easily seen to be shallow or vulgar.

a flashy nightclub act

When could garish be used to replace meretricious?

While the synonyms garish and meretricious are close in meaning, garish describes what is distressingly or offensively bright.

garish neon signs

Where would gaudy be a reasonable alternative to meretricious?

The words gaudy and meretricious can be used in similar contexts, but gaudy implies a tasteless use of overly bright, often clashing colors or excessive ornamentation.

circus performers in gaudy costumes

When would tawdry be a good substitute for meretricious?

Although the words tawdry and meretricious have much in common, tawdry applies to what is at once gaudy and cheap and sleazy.

tawdry saloons

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Cite this Entry

“Meretricious.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/meretricious. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

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