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See more synonyms for meretricious on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for meretriciousness

Historical Examples

  • The meretriciousness of women and their love of luxury are denounced.


    William Graham Sumner

  • She felt that she was a living part of John's meretriciousness.


    Arnold Bennett

  • There was a suggestion of meretriciousness in the tinted lips and the pretence of colour on the charming face.

    The Hand in the Dark

    Arthur J. Rees

British Dictionary definitions for meretriciousness


  1. superficially or garishly attractive
  2. insinceremeretricious praise
  3. archaic of, like, or relating to a prostitute
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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 meretriciousness



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper