- not stylish; drab; old-fashioned: Why do you always wear those dowdy old dresses?
- not neat or tidy; shabby.
- a dowdy woman.
Origin of dowdy1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Origin of dowdy2
Examples from the Web for dowdy
The fact that Rice is a dowdy, silver-haired nun plays well in the Court of Public Opinion.The Nuclear Nun Goes to Jail
February 18, 2014
“I need to get some sleep,” Dowdy said abruptly and headed off into one of the bedrooms.
Representative Dowdy had no faith that I would not cruise the lonely roads through the pine forests shouting, “Dowdy drinks!”
She long ago shed the extra pounds, dowdy hair, and frumpy clothes.Stay Frumpy, Tina Fey!
April 11, 2010
For all their dowdy utility, cutting boards are a critical part of your kitchen.The Dirty Truth About Cutting Boards
September 1, 2009
Henry perceived that his mother and his aunt were badly dressed—in truth, dowdy.A Great Man
You know you wouldn't like it if I went about in dowdy old things.Half a Hero
A little girl in Punch improves on the talk of her dowdy mother with the maids.The Children
So that dowdy get-up is for my benefit, and is not habitual to her!Man and Maid
Why do you hide your hair, and wear such a dowdy, high gown, Julia?The Wolves and the Lamb
William Makepeace Thackeray
- (esp of a woman's dress) drab, unflattering, and old-fashioned
- a dowdy woman
Word Origin and History for dowdy
1580s (n.), "an aukward, ill-dressed, inelegant woman" [Johnson]; 1670s (adj.), perhaps a diminutive of doue "poorly dressed woman" (early 14c.), of uncertain origin. The modern use of dowd (n.) is most likely a back-formation from dowdy. "If plaine or homely, wee saie she is a doudie or a slut" [Barnabe Riche, "Riche his Farewell to Militarie profession," 1581].
You don't have to be dowdy to be a Christian. [Tammy Faye Bakker, "Newsweek," June 8, 1987]
Related: Dowdily; dowdiness.