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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English gaudi, from Old French gaudie, from Medieval Latin gaudia. equivalent to gaud (ornament, trinket) +‎ -y.

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 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [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: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC:
      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.
    • 1842 December – 1844 July, Charles Dickens, chapter 3, in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1844, →OCLC, page 19:
      A faded, and an ancient dragon he was; and many a wintry storm of rain, snow, sleet, and hail, had changed his colour from a gaudy blue to a faint lack-lustre shade of gray.
    • 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 January 9, Thomas Hauser, Marilyn Cole Lownes, “How Bling-bling Took Over the Ring”, in The Observer:
      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. (archaic) One of the large beads in the rosary at which the paternoster is recited.
    • 1894, James Hamilton Wylie, History of England under Henry the Fourth, volume 2, pages 356–7:
      In 1458, the owner of the precious book, which had been taken from the martyr’s body at the block, left a rosary of 50 coral beads with gold gaudies, to his “beloved, most blessed Saint Richard Scrope,” to help in his canonization, with a prayer to God that it might be granted of His great grace.
    • 1919, Frederic William Moorman, Plays of the Ridings[1], pages 8–9:
      The circling year was to him like the rosary over which he recited his aves and paternosters; the “gaudies” or larger beads were the holidays set at regular intervals along the string, []
    • 1952 [1387–1400], Geoffrey Chaucer, translated by Nevill Coghill, The Canterbury Tales, page 29:
      She wore a coral trinket on her arms, / A set of beads, the gaudies tricked in green, / Whence hung a golden brooch of brightest sheen []

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from Latin gaudium (joy). Doublet of joy and jo.


gaudy (plural gaudies)

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