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meretricious

[mer-i-trish-uh s]
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adjective
  1. alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry.
  2. based on pretense, deception, or insincerity.
  3. pertaining to or characteristic of a prostitute.

Origin of meretricious

1620–30; < Latin meretrīcius of, pertaining to prostitutes, derivative of meretrīx prostitute, equivalent to mere-, stem of merēre to earn + -trīx -trix; see -ous
Related formsmer·e·tri·cious·ly, adverbmer·e·tri·cious·ness, nounun·mer·e·tri·cious, adjectiveun·mer·e·tri·cious·ly, adverbun·mer·e·tri·cious·ness, noun
Can be confusedmeritorious meretricious

Synonyms

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1. showy, gaudy. 2. spurious, sham, false.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for meretricious

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It is so beautiful that I'm dreadfully afraid it is meretricious.

  • There is not a meretricious or humiliating book in the whole collection.

    The Greatest English Classic

    Cleland Boyd McAfee

  • There is nothing showy or clever, nothing cheap or meretricious in all their work.

  • She was half-angry with him in the carriage, and said something about meretricious manners.

    Barchester Towers</p>

    Anthony Trollope

  • She fought against it from an instinctive feeling that it was meretricious.

    Coquette</p>

    Frank Swinnerton


British Dictionary definitions for meretricious

meretricious

adjective
  1. superficially or garishly attractive
  2. insinceremeretricious praise
  3. archaic of, like, or relating to a prostitute
Derived Formsmeretriciously, adverbmeretriciousness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin merētrīcius, from merētrix prostitute, from merēre to earn money
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for meretricious

adj.

1620s, "pertaining to harlots," from Latin meretricius "of or pertaining to prostitutes," from meretrix (genitive meretricis) "prostitute," literally "woman who earns money," from merere, mereri "to earn, gain" (see merit (n.)). Meaning "gaudily alluring" is from 1630s. Related: Meretriciously; meretriciousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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