• WordNet 3.6
    • adj tawdry cheap and shoddy "cheapjack moviemaking...that feeds on the low taste of the mob"- Judith Crist"
    • adj tawdry tastelessly showy "a flash car","a flashy ring","garish colors","a gaudy costume","loud sport shirts","a meretricious yet stylish book","tawdry ornaments"
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Tawdry A necklace of a rural fashion, bought at St. Audrey's fair; hence, a necklace in general. "Of which the Naiads and the blue Nereids make
      Them tawdries for their necks."
    • Tawdry Bought at the festival of St. Audrey. "And gird in your waist,
      For more fineness, with a tawdry lace."
    • Tawdry Very fine and showy in colors, without taste or elegance; having an excess of showy ornaments without grace; cheap and gaudy; as, a tawdry dress; tawdry feathers; tawdry colors. "He rails from morning to night at essenced fops and tawdry courtiers."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n tawdry A piece of rustic or cheap finery; a necklace, as of strung beads; a ribbon.
    • tawdry Characterized by cheap finery; gaudy; showy and tasteless; having too much or misapplied ornament; cheap; worthless.
    • tawdry Synonyms Tawdry, Gaudy. That which is tawdry has lost whatever freshness or elegance it has had, but is worn as if it were fresh, tasteful, and elegant, or it may be a cheap and ostentatious imitation of what is rich or costly; that which is gaudy challenges the eye by brilliant color or combinations of colors, but is not in good taste.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Tawdry taw′dri showy without taste: gaudily dressed
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Said to be corrupted from Saint Audrey, or Auldrey, meaning Saint Ethelreda, implying therefore, originally, bought at the fair of St. Audrey, where laces and gay toys of all sorts were sold. This fair was held in Isle Ely, and probably at other places, on the day of the saint, which was the 17th of October
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Said to be corr. from St Awdrey=St Ethelreda, at whose fair (17th October) laces and gay toys were sold.


In literature:

Visitors to the museum at Colombo may see a replica of the relic and its setting: it is a tawdry, unimpressive object.
"East of Suez" by Frederic Courtland Penfield
The first impression which one receives upon entering the inner precincts of the kraton is of tawdriness and dilapidation.
"Where the Strange Trails Go Down" by E. Alexander Powell
The appurtenances of the temple are tawdry and childish.
"A Tour of the Missions" by Augustus Hopkins Strong
It was brilliant with false richness and tawdry splendor.
"Germinie Lacerteux" by Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
Above the old hangings the Duke had hung a line of immense and tawdry gilt-framed mirrors.
"In the Tail of the Peacock" by Isabel Savory
Half the Tuscan poetry that he had read seemed to him monstrous, and the other half tawdry.
"Critical and Historical Essays, Volume III (of 3)" by Thomas Babington Macaulay
It looked rather tawdry and cheap.
"One Way Out" by William Carleton
The furniture was cheap and tawdry, and the carpet very dirty.
"Hushed Up" by William Le Queux
Mere tawdry imitations of heathen politics!
"Ghetto Comedies" by Israel Zangwill
To lack of education he attributed the tawdriness and vulgarity of popular taste.
"War Letters of a Public-School Boy" by Henry Paul Mainwaring Jones
Instead of trying to improve the national taste, they produced tawdry plays.
"The Story of Don Quixote" by Arvid Paulson, Clayton Edwards, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
She was a pretty piece of femininity, despite her poor language and her somewhat tawdry finery.
"The Spoilers of the Valley" by Robert Watson
These men never knew what love was, or they had not dared to profane it by their tawdry sentiments.
"Gerald Fitzgerald The Chevalier" by Charles James Lever
Like all savages, they were fond of toys and tawdry ornaments.
"History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia" by Charles Campbell
From any other pen, such masses of ornament would be tawdry; with him they are only rich.
"Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, Vol. 16" by Various
There is nothing sham or tawdry about that.
"The Ship Dwellers" by Albert Bigelow Paine
He had been engaged in a tawdry game, for all its gilding of rich prospects, but in the face of defeat a man cannot change his colors.
"The Law of Hemlock Mountain" by Hugh Lundsford
English women of the same social position are more inclined to what is tawdry, and have surely a less perfect sense of color and adaptation.
"Is Polite Society Polite?" by Julia Ward Howe
Singularly enough, this modest lady gave the origin to the word "tawdry," so Thornbury declares.
"Milton's England" by Lucia Ames Mead
To their simple tastes these tawdry stuffs were more attractive than diamonds.
"The Awakening of the Desert" by Julius C. Birge

In poetry:

All things are a flowing
Sage Heracleitus say;
But a tawdry cheapness
Shall outlast our days.
"E.P. Ode Pour L'election De Son Sepulchre" by Ezra Pound
Wordsworth wrote some tawdry stuff;
Much of Moore I have forgotten;
Parts of Tennyson are guff;
Bits of Byron, too, are rotten.
"Us Poets II" by Franklin Pierce Adams
Live ill or well, this thing is mine,
From all I guard it, ill or well.
One tawdry, tattered, faded flower
To show the jealous kings in hell.
"Vanity" by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
What care? There was one hour amid all these
When I had stripped off like a tawdry glove
My starriest hopes and wants, for very love
Of time and desolate eternities.
"The Triumph Of Man" by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Let him exult, with boundless wealth supplied,
Mine and the swain's reluctant homage share;
But, ah! his tawdry shepherdess's pride,
Gods! must my Delia, must my Delia, bear?
"Elegy X. To Fortune, Suggesting His Motive for Repining at Her Dispensations" by William Shenstone
On the world's stage I wish'd some sprightly part,
To deck my native fleece with tawdry lace!
'Twas life, 'twas taste, and—oh! my foolish heart!
Substantial joy was fix'd in power and place.
"Elegy XI. He Complains How Soon the Pleasing Novelty of Life Is Over" by William Shenstone

In news:

The Barry Bonds federal perjury trial turned tawdry yesterday during testimony by his former mistress, Kimberly Bell.
A tawdry end to a tawdry campaign in Long Beach.
Investigation of Arizona Attorney General includes tawdry elements.
The tawdry tycoon who hosted That '47 Percent' party.
"It is not going to be tawdry .".
London's Tawdry Tabloids Turn Upmarket.
Our precious freedom of stupid, tawdry speech.
London's Tawdry Tabloids Turn Upmarket .
Sen Joe Manchin III asked MTV to cancel "Buckwild," the network's tawdry more.
The chart in the Nov 6 issue of the Kalamazoo Gazette was one of the most slanted, tawdry pieces of journalism that I have ever seen.
Alcohol can make people do some pretty tawdry things.
It's a tale as old as time: Girl meets boy, girl marries other boy and achieves cheap tawdry fame on a reality show, then girl goes back to the first boy and gets a marriage proposal on stage.
Gaslight In a tawdry yet refined 1890's San Francisco, nothing is what it seems.
Hell in a Handbag 's"Sexy Baby,"which is set in the world of kiddie beauty pageants, is just as tawdry.
Reality TV alumna gets in tawdry snarl with law.