Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[taw-dree] /ˈtɔ dri/
adjective, tawdrier, tawdriest.
(of finery, trappings, etc.) gaudy; showy and cheap.
low or mean; base:
tawdry motives.
cheap, gaudy apparel.
Origin of tawdry
1605-15; short for (Sain)t Audrey lace, i.e., neck lace bought at St. Audrey's Fair in Ely, England; so called after St. Audrey (Old English Aethelthrȳth, died 679), Northumbrian queen and patron saint of Ely, who, according to tradition, died of a throat tumor which she considered just punishment of her youthful liking for neck laces
Related forms
tawdrily, adverb
tawdriness, noun
untawdry, adjective
1. flashy, meretricious.
1. elegant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for tawdriness
Historical Examples
  • There is a tawdriness about them all, something artificial and unreal.

    The Traitors

    E. Phillips (Edward Phillips) Oppenheim
  • In England she had borrowed the untidiness and tawdriness that degrade the English poor.

    Our House Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • In the midst of all the tawdriness she was a still and sacred figure—a Madonna with a child.

    The Tin Soldier

    Temple Bailey
  • In spite of the gilded sea-horses and chariot, there is no tawdriness here; all is bold, splendid, and imposing.

    The Mediterranean

    T. G. (Thomas Gray) Bonney, E. A. R. Ball, H. D. Traill, Grant Allen, and Arthur Griffiths
  • Hence the tawdriness which is justly alleged against much Italian literature.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • The picturesque old fought a brave battle with the tinsel and tawdriness of the new.

    The Traitors

    E. Phillips (Edward Phillips) Oppenheim
  • To us it seems to bear a nearer affinity to the tawdriness of poverty, or the spasms and convulsions of weakness.

  • I won in that moment an impression of the tawdriness of mere beauty which I have never gotten over.

    A Positive Romance Edward Bellamy
  • The first impression which one receives upon entering the inner precincts of the kraton is of tawdriness and dilapidation.

    Where the Strange Trails Go Down E. Alexander Powell
  • Hygiene has not passed within the Mellah's walls, but a certain amount of Western tawdriness has.

    Morocco S.L. Bensusan
British Dictionary definitions for tawdriness


adjective -drier, -driest
cheap, showy, and of poor quality: tawdry jewellery
Derived Forms
tawdrily, adverb
tawdriness, noun
Word Origin
C16 tawdry lace, shortened and altered from Seynt Audries lace, finery sold at the fair of St Audrey (Etheldrida), 7th-century queen of Northumbria and patron saint of Ely, Cambridgeshire
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for tawdriness



"cheap, showy, gaudy," 1670s, adjective use of noun tawdry "silk necktie for women" (1610s), shortened from tawdry lace (1540s), an alteration of St. Audrey's lace, a necktie or ribbon sold at the annual fair at Ely on Oct. 17 commemorating St. Audrey (queen of Northumbria, died 679). Her association with cheap lace necklaces is that she supposedly died of a throat tumor, which she considered God's punishment for her youthful fondness for showy necklaces [Bede].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for tawdriness

Word Value for tawdriness

Scrabble Words With Friends