[gair-ish, gar-]
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  1. crudely or tastelessly colorful, showy, or elaborate, as clothes or decoration.
  2. excessively ornate or elaborate, as buildings or writings.
  3. dressed in or ornamented with bright colors.
  4. excessively bright; glaring.

Origin of garish

1535–45; earlier gaurish, perhaps equivalent to obsolete gaure to stare (Middle English gauren < Old Norse) + -ish1
Related formsgar·ish·ly, adverbgar·ish·ness, noun

Synonyms for garish

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1. loud, tawdry. See gaudy1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for garishness

Historical Examples of garishness

  • He despised all garishness and affectation, and was usually full of his theme.

    Fifty Notable Years

    John G. Adams

  • "The insolence of wealth and the garishness of its marts are disappearing," I told her.

    A Top-Floor Idyl

    George van Schaick

  • Piano colors of a violence and garishness are hurled against each other.

    Musical Portraits

    Paul Rosenfeld

  • Think of a lot of over-dressed creatures flouting those severe outlines and deep-toned distances with frippery and garishness.

  • The castle had as yet yielded to him nothing that he had not seen before in the distraction of company and the garishness of day.

British Dictionary definitions for garishness


  1. gay or colourful in a crude or vulgar manner; gaudy
Derived Formsgarishly, adverbgarishness, noun

Word Origin for garish

C16: from earlier gaure to stare + -ish
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 garishness



1540s, possibly from obsolete Middle English gawren "to stare" (c.1200), which is of uncertain origin (perhaps from Old Norse gaurr "rough fellow") + -ish. Related: Garishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper