Definition of vulgar in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvʌlɡə/


1Lacking sophistication or good taste: a vulgar check suit
More example sentences
  • Columnist John Blunt questioned whether such stunts classed as entertainment, when in fact they showed rather poor, even vulgar, taste.
  • We blame them for violence in society, vulgar tastes and a host of other ills.
  • Looking out on Europe from the sheltered perspective of his home in Basle, Burckhardt deplored the arrival of mass society with its vulgar tastes, turbulent politics, and unlimited capacity for violence.
tasteless, gross, crass, unrefined, tawdry, ostentatious, flamboyant, over-elaborate, overdone, showy, flashy, gaudy, garish, brassy, kitsch, tinselly, flaunting, glaring, brash, loud, harsh
informal flash, tacky, over the top, OTT, glitzy, swanky
impolite, ill-mannered, unmannerly, indecorous, unseemly, ill-bred, boorish, low, low-minded, gross, uncouth, crude, rough;
uncultured, uncultivated, unsophisticated, unrefined;
illiterate, uneducated, philistine;
common, ordinary, low-born, plebeian
informal yobbish, loutish, plebby, ignorant
archaic baseborn
2Making explicit and offensive reference to sex or bodily functions; coarse and rude: a vulgar joke
More example sentences
  • I brace myself for something offensive or vulgar or just inane enough to cause me to stifle a laugh.
  • Political correctness has certainly not hindered my ability to be vulgar or offensive.
  • Seldom have we witnessed a more shameless display of rude and vulgar behavior towards an invited guest.
rude, indecent, indelicate, offensive, distasteful, obnoxious, risqué, suggestive, racy, earthy, off colour, colourful, coarse, crude, ribald, Rabelaisian, bawdy, obscene, lewd, salacious, licentious, vile, depraved, sordid, smutty, dirty, filthy, pornographic, X-rated, scatological;
profane, foul, foul-mouthed, blasphemous, abusive, scurrilous
informal sleazy, porno, porn, raunchy, naughty, blue, steamy, spicy, locker-room
British informal fruity, saucy, near the knuckle, close to the bone
North American informal gamy
euphemistic adult
rare concupiscent
3 dated Characteristic of or belonging to ordinary people.
Example sentences
  • Thasos passed measures to prevent wine-shops becoming bars, while the fact that taverns were so popular in Byzantium and Athens revealed the essentially vulgar character of democratic societies.
  • The most likely explanation, however, is that Nushu derives from a simplification of vulgar forms of Chinese characters used in handwriting.
  • Heckerling's most well-known films link female characters with humour that belongs to a tradition of vulgar or low comedy.



Pronunciation: /ˈvʌlɡəli/
Example sentences
  • In 1923, Ms Reese-Jarvis filed a lawsuit against two businessmen who, she felt, were vulgarly capitalising on Mother's Day and launched a placard and pamphlet protest.
  • You had to wear something much worse - the Eton jacket, vulgarly known as the ‘bum freezer’, which was essentially a tail suit without the tails.
  • He plays the piano ‘badly and vulgarly,’ and what is worse, he plays Grieg.


Late Middle English: from Latin vulgaris, from vulgus 'common people'. The original senses were 'used in ordinary calculations' (surviving in vulgar fraction) and 'in ordinary use, used by the people' (surviving in vulgar tongue).

  • Latin vulgus ‘the common people’ is the source of vulgar. The original senses, from the late Middle Ages, were ‘used in ordinary calculations’, which survives in vulgar fraction, and ‘in ordinary use, used by the people’, which survives in vulgar tongue. The sense ‘coarse, uncultured’ dates from the mid 17th century. Divulge (Late Middle English) is from the same root, from Latin divulgare ‘to spread among the people’, hence to make generally known.

Words that rhyme with vulgar


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vul¦gar

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