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adjective, tack·i·er, tack·i·est.
  1. sticky to the touch; adhesive.

Origin of tacky1

First recorded in 1780–90; tack1 + -y1
Related formstack·i·ness, noun


adjective, tack·i·er, tack·i·est.
  1. not tasteful or fashionable; dowdy.
  2. shabby in appearance; shoddy: a tacky, jerry-built housing development.
  3. crass; cheaply vulgar; tasteless; crude.
  4. gaudy; flashy; showy.

Origin of tacky2

1880–85, Americanism; apparently identical with earlier tack(e)y small horse, pony, poor farmer; of obscure origin
Related formstack·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tacky



adjective tackier or tackiest
  1. slightly sticky or adhesivethe varnish was still tacky
Derived Formstackily, adverbtackiness, noun

Word Origin

C18: from tack 1 (in the sense: stickiness)


adjective tackier or tackiest informal
  1. shabby or shoddy
  2. ostentatious and vulgar
  3. US (of a person) dowdy; seedy
Derived Formstackiness, noun

Word Origin

C19: from dialect tacky an inferior horse, of unknown origin
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 tacky


"sticky," 1788, from tack (n.1) in the sense of "an act of attaching temporarily" + -y (2).


"in poor taste," 1862, adj. use of tackey (n.) "small or inferior horse" (1800), later "hillbilly, cracker" (1888), of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper