- Tastelessly gaudy; superficially attractive but having in reality no value or substance; falsely alluring.
1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
- He looked round the poor room, at the distempered walls, and the bad engravings in meretricious frames, the crinkly paper and wax flowers on the chiffonier; and he thought of a room like Father Bryan's, with panelling, with cut glass, with tulips in silver pots, such a room as he had hoped to have for his own.
- 2006, Clive James, North Face of Soho, Picador 2007, p. 164:
- When I lifted my eyes from the page, there was none of the meretricious argument London always offers that the sole real purpose in life is to hustle for a buck.
- (law) Involving unlawful sexual connection or lack of consent by at least one party (said of a romantic relationship)
- (obsolete) Of, or relating to prostitutes or prostitution.