Definition of tawdry in English:

tawdry

adjective

  • 1Showy but cheap and of poor quality.

    ‘tawdry jewellery’
    • ‘Sure, Vegas may be tacky, tawdry, glitzy, pricey, shallow, obscene, and frequently offensive, but dammit, so is America.’
    • ‘As the week segues into Christmas, the tawdry glitter of the tinsel and plastic Christmas ornaments fails to warm us with a transcedental inner glow.’
    • ‘To simplify matters, he took some photographs with him of Lee's gold-encrusted fist so he could be sure of getting something equally tawdry, ostentatious and meretricious.’
    • ‘The place where Wuornos was arrested - a tawdry biker joint in Florida's Daytona Beach called The Last Resort, where women's underwear hangs above the bar - draws the curious.’
    • ‘Then I distributed the cheap and tawdry things in a convincing fashion all over the house.’
    • ‘Which is saying something, considering the sleazy, tawdry appearance she presented.’
    • ‘Big brogues aren't exactly a high-fashion footwear item these days, but then neither are those tawdry tan shoes with tacky pink shoelaces!’
    • ‘All has changed now and Senator Norris's hope that the area would be the Left Bank of Dublin has faded to reveal a tawdry temple to tacky consumerism.’
    • ‘They were once looked down upon as the tawdry poor relations of the fashion industry.’
    • ‘It was so tawdry and cheap looking, I couldn't resist.’
    • ‘I know that with all the ghastly images on TV and tawdry clothing worn by most that bad messages are sent to the young mind.’
    • ‘The familiar sadness of the ceremony was multiplied by its setting: a tawdry tar-paper barrack surrounded by strips of barbed wire which denied the parents of the honored soldiers the very freedom for which their sons had died.’
    • ‘With a whole new series of wallpapers and floors in leopard-print and fake gold, you can decorate your brothel to give it that gaudy, tawdry look that will have the punters coming back for more.’
    • ‘The first hint of Christmas is no longer the tawdry line of tinsel in the high street.’
    • ‘Beyond Mallorca's tired and tawdry resorts lies an unspoilt, unpolluted island - and if you don't believe us, visit the rural village of Costitx, whose international observatory opened in 1991.’
    • ‘Beside them, lines of impoverished street vendors squat on dirty rush mats, displaying their tawdry collections of cheap plastic keyrings and fake Rolex watches.’
    • ‘For most visitors it was shabby and tawdry, with hotel rooms designed to be so uncomfortable that you had to go downstairs and gamble.’
    • ‘The Candleglow insignia in the corner doesn't help matters, but simply emphasizes how cheap and tawdry the whole thing looks.’
    • ‘Shares would drop, pop stars would be seen packing their tawdry belongings into Lear jets and jetting off to some marble mansion in the Costa Del Sol to await the return of the Tories and people would start buying gold to hide under their beds.’
    • ‘Nor do Israeli presidents wear plastic sunglasses, carry pistols to the U.N., or have chests full of cheap and tawdry metals.’
    gaudy, flashy, showy, garish, loud
    tasteless, vulgar, brash, crass, rubbishy, trashy, junky, cheap, cheap and nasty, cheapjack, paltry, worthless, shoddy, shabby, meretricious, plastic, tinselly, gimcrack, brummagem
    flash, tatty, tacky, kitsch
    twopenny-halfpenny
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Sordid or unpleasant.
      ‘the tawdry business of politics’
      • ‘The silky relationship between art and fashion may seem charming but is often a tawdry, corrupting, even whorish affair.’
      • ‘This may evade privacy restrictions but is cheap and tawdry at best.’
      • ‘That, I told myself, is only the stuff you read about in cheap, tawdry romance novels (which I happen to write).’
      • ‘In summary, he says, yet another shabby, tawdry cover-up by the Defence Force and the Government.’
      • ‘Women seeking counsel on how to get the most out of their husbands can dip into a river of self-help books, tawdry daytime TV shows and features that dramatize the female author's plight in women's magazines.’
      • ‘And rather than the fake documents pointing to a global conspiracy implicating half the statesmen of the western world, might there not be a rather more tawdry, banal explanation for the Telegraph documents?’
      • ‘Not only did he disapprove of gay marriage, but refused to even give relationship status to gay and lesbian couples, preferring the tawdry term ‘liaisons’.’
      • ‘Whatever the lying word or disgraceful deed, you are always left with the feeling that something so paltry, so pointlessly tawdry, must lead to a larger scandal.’
      • ‘Liberals read more broadly and deeply, so their intellect infuses the entire catalog, or even all of Western literature, not just a few tawdry best sellers.’
      • ‘They are cheap, tawdry politicians not worthy of anything other than contempt.’
      • ‘These tired statements are in aid of the staff recommendation for a tired and tawdry idea from the '80s - that Toronto should prepare a bid to host the World Expo here in 2015.’
      • ‘Others think this can only be a good thing, saying the outdoor advertising industry has long been seen as tawdry and tasteless.’
      • ‘Of course, I am speaking as a mom, and a pretty indignant mom… What a cheap and tawdry political trick.’
      • ‘If we can somehow do that, then we will have the diverse regional parts of this big blue marble as a permanent stage on which to play out our mostly tawdry - but occasionally splendid - human dramas.’
      • ‘There has been much criticism of this strategy, some from me, but in a way the strategy in itself is contributing to a positive perception that the National leader is somehow above indulging in these tawdry games.’
      • ‘However crass and tawdry this influence-peddling may be, it hardly comes as a shock.’
      • ‘Obviously some tipsters do better than others, otherwise they would go out of business - you would be surprised how many do, only to surface under another name and charge even more for their tawdry nonsense.’
      • ‘Second, a sense that writers, readers and books should dwell in a pure, fluffy space in the clouds, removed from tawdry concerns of image… or even, perhaps, human physicality.’
      • ‘But even with all its tawdry details, the case raises some serious issues about the way the justice system treats rape complainants and defendants.’
      • ‘What they don't realise is that tinsel and tawdry jokes take the joy out of the season of goodwill.’

noun

Archaic
  • [mass noun] Cheap and gaudy finery.

    • ‘I had seen him in procession with his golden crook, preceded by the priests of his diocese, dressed up in all the tawdry of their canonicals.’

Origin

Early 17th century: short for tawdry lace, a fine silk lace or ribbon worn as a necklace in the 16th–17th centuries, contraction of St Audrey's lace: Audrey was a later form of Etheldrida (died 679), patron saint of Ely where tawdry laces, along with cheap imitations and other cheap finery, were traditionally sold at a fair.

Pronunciation:

tawdry

/ˈtɔːdri/