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Etymology 1[edit]

Origin uncertain; perhaps from gaud (ornament, trinket) +‎ -y, perhaps ultimately from Old French gaudir (to rejoice).

Alternatively, from Middle English gaudi, gawdy (yellowish), from Old French gaude, galde (weld (the plant)), from Frankish *walda, from Proto-Germanic *walþō, *walþijō, akin to Old English *weald, *wielde (>Middle English welde, wolde and Anglo-Latin walda (alum)), Middle Low German wolde, Middle Dutch woude. More at English weld.

A common claim that the word derives from Antoni Gaudí, designer of Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, is incorrect: the word was in use centuries before Gaudí was born.


gaudy (comparative gaudier, superlative gaudiest)

  1. very showy or ornamented, now especially when excessive, or in a tasteless or vulgar manner
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene iii]:
      Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, / But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy.
    • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], Pride and Prejudice, volume (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton [], OCLC 38659585:
      The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.
    • 1887, Homer Greene, Burnham Breaker:
      A large gaudy, flowing cravat, and an ill-used silk hat, set well back on the wearer's head, completed this somewhat noticeable costume.
    • 2005, Thomas Hauser & Marilyn Cole Lownes, "How Bling-bling Took Over the Ring", The Observer, 9 January 2005
      Gaudy jewellery might offend some people's sense of style. But former heavyweight champion and grilling-machine entrepreneur George Foreman is philosophical about today's craze for bling-bling.
  2. (obsolete) fun; merry; festive
Derived terms[edit]


gaudy (plural gaudies)

  1. One of the large beads in the rosary at which the paternoster is recited.

Etymology 2[edit]

Latin gaudium (joy). Doublet of joy.


gaudy (plural gaudies)

  1. (Oxford University) A reunion held by one of the colleges of the University of Oxford for alumni, normally held during the long vacation.
Derived terms[edit]