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May 19, 2021
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
Hoyle
Houdini
tawdry
McDonaldization
pooh-bah

tawdry
A statue of St Audrey in St Etheldreda’s Church, Ely, UK. None of her laces exist, but the church has saved her actual hand.

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

tawdry

PRONUNCIATION:
(TAW-dree)

MEANING:
adjective: Cheap, showy, and gaudy.

ETYMOLOGY:
Short for tawdry lace, a contraction of St Audrey lace. The story goes that Æthelthryth (c. 636-679 CE), also known as Etheldreda and Audrey, loved fine silk laces in her youth. She died of a throat tumor which she considered a punishment for her fondness of necklaces. She was a queen, but later became a nun, and eventually a saint. Cheap laces sold in St Audrey’s Fair in Ely, England, came to be known as St Audrey lace, and eventually shrank to tawdry lace. Earliest documented use: 1612. Also see, trumpery.

USAGE:
“When they visit Las Vegas and stay at Caesar’s Palace, she gazes in wonder at the tawdry casino.”
Why Did Sebastian Lelio Remake “Gloria”?; The Economist (London, UK); Mar 12, 2019.

“‘His library will service the man,’ says the architect. ‘His will be something very tawdry and very tacky.’”
Andrew Buncombe; ‘Tacky’, ‘Tawdry’, and a Project of Self-Aggrandisement; The Independent (London, UK); Feb 4, 2021.

See more usage examples of tawdry in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Red roses for young lovers. French beans for longstanding relationships. -Ruskin Bond, author (b. 19 May 1934)

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