Definition of meretricious in English:



  • 1Apparently attractive but having no real value.

    ‘meretricious souvenirs for the tourist trade’
    • ‘Now some meretricious construct called Big Brother - without value, meaning or even entertainment-value - seems to captivate the luckless viewer.’
    • ‘‘A mendacious, monkey-brained leader with a meretricious, money-grabbing wife’, he says, just to give you a little more context.’
    • ‘We are so accustomed to meretricious cultural studies that when the real thing comes along, generous and suggestive, we may fail to see how many windows and veins it opens.’
    • ‘There's something cheap about this sort of fake wisdom, something tawdry, meretricious, something… what's the word I'm looking for?’
    • ‘But if millions of people can choose the meretricious rather than the meritorious in so simple a thing as coffee and cafés, is it sensible to give them the vote when much more complex issues are at stake?’
    • ‘They were attacked as meretricious and manipulative, but what is film-making anyway but that?’
    • ‘But anniversaries do provide an excuse to look beyond the meretricious present and pepper the pages of our pallid and alliteration-strewn papers with remembrances of times past.’
    • ‘As the Telegraph explains, critics universally enjoy rubbishing his work - just poster art, says the Guardian, meretricious rubbish, says the Times.’
    • ‘‘Glossy, meretricious crap,’ is his damning verdict.’
    • ‘This movie is quite a box of tricks, and director Alan Parker has turned the handle at the side and cranked out two hours' worth of flashy, meretricious and deeply silly nonsense.’
    • ‘By the time I exited grad school, the feeling of an era being over - however meretricious in some of its particulars the era might have been - was unmistakable.’
    • ‘Not the old, proud, quietly beautiful gold that was cherished to them, but the meretricious, cheap, glaring bright gold that seemed to try too hard at being beautiful.’
    • ‘But that's meretricious, in every sense of the term.’
    • ‘Too often, it seemed to me, he was determined to discover in a literary work what was phony or meretricious rather than what was admirable.’
    • ‘Hathaway is suitably perky for her role, but there's no real humor here, the political edge is simply meretricious, and even the special effects stink.’
    • ‘Most elections, like this one, are full of languor and anxious imitation, where any semblance of vision is replaced by meretricious showboating, of the kind for which Jospin had no talent.’
    • ‘This dopey, loopy novel not only fails as literature but can't even deliver the cheap, meretricious thrills that make so many popular novels popular.’
    • ‘If it is seduced consent, created by the meretricious fabrications of spin doctors, then democracy itself is at risk of degenerating.’
    • ‘In stark contrast to the Dome, which symbolises all that is trashy and meretricious in contemporary Britain, the Great Exhibition was the wonder of its age, a living expression of the country's growing majesty.’
    • ‘Stars no longer have the guts to protest such meretricious displays of ego and decadence with their absence, or to inappropriately hijack award shows for their own political purposes.’
    flashy, pretentious, gaudy, tawdry, trashy, garish, chintzy, brummagem, loud, tinselly, cheap, tasteless, kitschy
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic Relating to or characteristic of a prostitute.


Early 17th century: from Latin meretricius (adjective from meretrix, meretric- ‘prostitute’, from mereri ‘be hired’) + -ous.