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adjective, gaud·i·er, gaud·i·est.
  1. brilliantly or excessively showy: gaudy plumage.
  2. cheaply showy in a tasteless way; flashy.
  3. ostentatiously ornamented; garish.
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Origin of gaudy1

1520–30; orig. attributive use of gaudy2; later taken as a derivative of gaud
Related formsgaud·i·ly, adverbgaud·i·ness, nounun·gaud·i·ly, adverbun·gaud·i·ness, noun


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2. tawdry, loud; conspicuous, obvious. Gaudy, flashy, garish, showy agree in the idea of conspicuousness and, often, bad taste. That which is gaudy challenges the eye, as by brilliant colors or evident cost, and is not in good taste: a gaudy hat. Flashy suggests insistent and vulgar display, in rather a sporty manner: a flashy necktie. Garish suggests a glaring brightness, or crude vividness of color, and too much ornamentation: garish decorations. Showy applies to that which is strikingly conspicuous, but not necessarily offensive to good taste: a garden of showy flowers; a showy dress.



noun, plural gaud·ies. British.
  1. a festival or celebration, especially an annual college feast.
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Origin of gaudy2

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin gaudium joy, delight
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

garish, splashy, ostentatious, brilliant, jazzy, flashy, snazzy, showy, gross, gay, pizzazz, chichi, crude, tinsel, screaming, blatant, brazen, chintzy, coarse, florid

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British Dictionary definitions for gaudy


adjective gaudier or gaudiest
  1. gay, bright, or colourful in a crude or vulgar manner; garish
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Derived Formsgaudily, adverbgaudiness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from gaud


noun plural gaudies
  1. British a celebratory festival or feast held at some schools and colleges
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Word Origin

C16: from Latin gaudium joy, from gaudēre to rejoice
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 gaudy


"showy, tastelessly rich," 1580s, probably ultimately from Middle English gaudi "large, ornamental bead in a rosary" (early 14c.); but there is a parallel sense of gaudy as "full of trickery" (1520s), from Middle English gaud "deception, trick," from gaudi "a jest, trick," possibly from Anglo-French gaudir "be merry, scoff," from Latin gaudere "rejoice" (see joy).

Alternative etymology of the adjective is from Middle English gaudegrene "yellowish-green" (early 14c.), originally "green dye" obtained from a plant formerly known as weld, from a Germanic source (see weld (n.)), which became gaude in Old French. The English term supposedly shifted sense from "weld-dye" to "bright." As a noun, "feast, festival" 1650s, from gaudy day "day of rejoicing" (1560s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper