Printable Version
Pronunciation: gaw-dee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Adjective

Meaning: 1. (Noun) A gala festival or entertainment celebrating some event, especially an event in the history of a British college. 2. (Adjective) Extravagantly showy, flashy, brightly colorful in clashing hues.

Notes: Today's Good old English Word was derived from an even older noun, gaud "a flashy bauble, a trashy trinket or ornament". You may work this word into an adverb, gaudily, or a noun, gaudiness without much trouble. Gaudy is the most positive of its synonyms. Flashy implies shallow showiness while tawdry suggests cheapness and sleaziness. Gaudiness suggests brightly clashing colors only slightly outlandish.

In Play: Today's Good Word does not necessarily carry any negative connotation: "Maud Lynn Dresser wears such gaudy clothes you would think she is constantly on her way to a fiesta in Cuba or Puerto Rico." The nominal sense is always positive and should be used much more widely in the English-speaking world: "Mardi Gras is the gaudiest of gaudies in the United States."

Word History: There is an urban myth that the eponym of the word gaudy is the 19th century art nouveau Spanish (Catalan) architect Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852-1926). The adjective gaudy, however, was in use long before Gaudí was born, sometime before 1434. The word actually comes from Old French gaudir "to rejoice, make merry, to jest, scoff at" from late Latin gaudre "to rejoice", a descendant of Latin gaudere "rejoice, be joyful". It is close kin to Greek ganusthai "to rejoice" with an infixed N. (Thanks today to Kathleen of Norway for this elegant if not gaudy lexical trinket from the English word store. This is the 1500th Good Word that we now have in our Good Word dictionary.)

Dr. Goodword,

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