Definition of tawdry in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtɔːdri/

adjective (tawdrier, tawdriest)

1Showy but cheap and of poor quality: tawdry jewellery
More example sentences
  • Beside them, lines of impoverished street vendors squat on dirty rush mats, displaying their tawdry collections of cheap plastic keyrings and fake Rolex watches.
  • They were once looked down upon as the tawdry poor relations of the fashion industry.
  • Then I distributed the cheap and tawdry things in a convincing fashion all over the house.
gaudy, flashy, showy, garish, loud;
tasteless, vulgar, brash, crass, rubbishy, trashy, junky, cheap, cheap and nasty, cheapjack, paltry, worthless, shoddy, shabby, meretricious, plastic, tinselly, gimcrack, Brummagem
informal flash, tatty, tacky, kitsch
British informal twopenny-halfpenny
1.1Sordid or unpleasant: the tawdry business of politics
More example sentences
  • The silky relationship between art and fashion may seem charming but is often a tawdry, corrupting, even whorish affair.
  • That, I told myself, is only the stuff you read about in cheap, tawdry romance novels (which I happen to write).
  • This may evade privacy restrictions but is cheap and tawdry at best.


[mass noun] archaic
Cheap and gaudy finery.
Example sentences
  • I had seen him in procession with his golden crook, preceded by the priests of his diocese, dressed up in all the tawdry of their canonicals.



Example sentences
  • They are very friendly, are not so tawdrily decorated as those we saw below, and use little or no paint.
  • My government is filled with people who are tawdrily seduced and unhealthily excited by proximity to it.
  • You find yourself much too ugly to go shopping in that bright mall with all these tawdrily dressed and rouged people?


Pronunciation: /ˈtɔːdrɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • To say nothing of the undocumented - and maybe undocumentable - tawdriness and sordidness that lay ahead.
  • For, whatever the Age's tawdriness and corruption, Hamlet shares that Age's unique magnificence, in considerable part a product of aesthetic greediness.
  • Indeed, the Gilded Age involved far more than gilt, tawdriness, and corruption.


Early 17th century: short for tawdry lace, a fine silk lace or ribbon worn as a necklace in the 16th–17th cents, contraction of St Audrey's lace: Audrey was a later form of Etheldrida (died 679), patron saint of Ely where tawdry laces, along with cheap imitations and other cheap finery, were traditionally sold at a fair.

  • Tawdry was originally short for tawdry lace, a fine silk lace or ribbon worn as a necklace in the 16th and 17th centuries, a contraction of the original term St Audrey's lace. Audrey was a Latinized form of Etheldreda, name of the 7th-century patron saint of Ely, who was said to have worn many showy necklaces in her youth, before she became a nun. When she became terminally ill with a throat tumour she saw her illness as retribution for her vanity. Tawdry laces, along with other finery, were traditionally sold at St Etheldreda's Fair in Ely, and their cheapness and poor quality led to the modern associations of tawdry.

Words that rhyme with tawdry

Audrey, bawdry

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: taw¦dry

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