Definition of dowdy in English:



  • (of a person or their clothes) unfashionable and without style in appearance (typically used of a woman)

    ‘she could achieve the kind of casual chic that made every other woman around her look dowdy’
    • ‘Only when we meet these paragons at a literary festival or a bookstore signing do we discover that they're blue-rinsed dwarfs, clownish geeks, dowdy grannies, troglodytic professors, extras from a Lord of the Rings movie.’
    • ‘After all those years of boring white coats for doctors and dowdy gowns for patients, finally the medical label is meeting the fashion label - and we're certainly diagnosing exciting things for the parade tonight.’
    • ‘There is the same comic contrast between the characters' unbridled enthusiasm and their dowdy clothing and heavy Eastern European accents.’
    • ‘Our living room does not have any character, unless that character is a dowdy matron who has a full-time gig as a toy tester.’
    • ‘In the first series, a recurring film sketch, ‘Drudge Squad’, followed the exploits of a special police unit run by dowdy housewives wearing scarves over their curlers and carrying shopping bags.’
    • ‘Only the dowdy daughter, Martha, treats him with kindness, teaching him to read and shielding him occasionally from her siblings' harshest jibes.’
    • ‘How else to explain her deglamorized look and dowdy outfit?’
    • ‘By the end of Ann's episode, the formerly dowdy Jersey girl is certainly more stylish.’
    • ‘She writes a weekly series called The Beseleys for a nameless and dowdy woman's magazine of the sort Dewar helped to fill when she was a jobbing journalist.’
    • ‘Denise was last seen on our screens playing the dowdy mother of six, Edie McClure, in Born & Bred.’
    • ‘Several dowdy ladies gravitated towards them, bringing cups plates and enquiring minds.’
    • ‘Television pundits lambasted her image as a frumpy housewife who delivered dull speeches while clad in dowdy grey or brown suits.’
    • ‘Far from being a dowdy matron, she was a strong-willed, independent-minded, intelligent woman, twice married, with a mischievous sense of humour.’
    • ‘On the cover of Time, in a spread in Life, the image of Romania's Iron Lady was stout and unsmiling, a monolith with a face of stone, dowdy clothes and unkempt hair.’
    • ‘I found it hard to believe that I had ever located anything attractive in this dowdy woman with her bleached blonde hair, her nonexistent figure and her masculine voice.’
    • ‘Uncomfortable with her ‘frumpy’ appearance, she has replaced dowdy suits with bright blouses, employs a celebrity hairdresser and takes a makeup artist to rallies.’
    • ‘In it, dowdy housewife types got a chance at an attitude overhaul complete with pole-dance lesson, learning the stripper strut and makeovers galore.’
    • ‘Gone is the willowy beauty, and in her place is a thin, pinched, dowdy lady, an eccentric Victorian who wears ugly hats.’
    • ‘Now the road to the grave stretches ahead, enlivened only by daytime television and the holidays he will take with an equally dowdy wife he barely tolerates.’
    • ‘His hands, which he'd put lightly on his wife's shoulders to persuade her to go home, felt something very irregular underneath that sensible, dowdy dress.’
    unfashionable, frumpish, frumpy, drab, dull, old-fashioned, outmoded, out of style, not smart, inelegant, badly dressed, ill-dressed, shabby, scruffy, faded, untidy, dingy, frowzy
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Late 16th century (as a noun): from dowd.