[ mer-i-trish-uhs ]
See synonyms for: meretriciousmeretriciousness on

  1. alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry.

  2. based on pretense, deception, or insincerity.

  1. Archaic. relating to or characteristic of a prostitute.

Origin of meretricious

First recorded in 1620–30; from Latin meretrīcius “of, pertaining to prostitutes,” derivative of meretrīx “prostitute,” equivalent to mere-, stem of merēre “to earn” + -trīx -trix; see -ous

Other words for meretricious

Other words from meretricious

  • mer·e·tri·cious·ly, adverb
  • mer·e·tri·cious·ness, noun
  • un·mer·e·tri·cious, adjective
  • un·mer·e·tri·cious·ly, adverb
  • un·mer·e·tri·cious·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with meretricious Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use meretricious in a sentence

  • If not touched by city elegance, neither is it infected by city meretriciousness; it is sweet, wholesome country.

    Literary and Social Essays | George William Curtis
  • She felt that she was a living part of John's meretriciousness.

    Leonora | Arnold Bennett
  • The meretriciousness of women and their love of luxury are denounced.

    Folkways | William Graham Sumner
  • 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 meretricious


/ (ˌmɛrɪˈtrɪʃəs) /

  1. superficially or garishly attractive

  2. insincere: meretricious praise

  1. archaic of, like, or relating to a prostitute

Origin of meretricious

C17: from Latin merētrīcius, from merētrix prostitute, from merēre to earn money

Derived forms of meretricious

  • meretriciously, adverb
  • meretriciousness, noun

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