follow Dictionary.com

Denotation vs. Connotation

dowdy1

[dou-dee] /ˈdaʊ di/
adjective, dowdier, dowdiest.
1.
not stylish; drab; old-fashioned:
Why do you always wear those dowdy old dresses?
2.
not neat or tidy; shabby.
noun, plural dowdies.
3.
a dowdy woman.
Origin of dowdy1
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English doude unattractive woman (of uncertain origin) + -y1 or -y2
Related forms
dowdily, adverb
dowdiness, noun
dowdyish, adjective
dowdyism, noun
Synonyms
1. frumpy.
Antonyms
1. fashionable, stylish.

dowdy2

[dou-dee] /ˈdaʊ di/
noun, plural dowdies.
Origin
1935-40; short form
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for dowdy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I can't see their "beauty," no more than the charms of some dowdy old Dutch.

  • Henry perceived that his mother and his aunt were badly dressed—in truth, dowdy.

    A Great Man Arnold Bennett
  • He wants me to dress like a dowdy, for all his wealth, and I can't buy a ring that he doesn't raise a terrible fuss.

    The Ancient Law Ellen Glasgow
  • You know you wouldn't like it if I went about in dowdy old things.

    Half a Hero Anthony Hope
  • So that dowdy get-up is for my benefit, and is not habitual to her!

    Man and Maid Elinor Glyn
British Dictionary definitions for dowdy

dowdy

/ˈdaʊdɪ/
adjective -dier, -diest
1.
(esp of a woman's dress) drab, unflattering, and old-fashioned
noun (pl) -dies
2.
a dowdy woman
Derived Forms
dowdily, adverb
dowdiness, noun
dowdyish, adjective
Word Origin
C14: dowd slut, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for dowdy

1580s (n.), "an aukward, ill-dressed, inelegant woman" [Johnson]; 1670s (adj.), perhaps a diminutive of doue "poorly dressed woman" (early 14c.), of uncertain origin. The modern use of dowd (n.) is most likely a back-formation from dowdy. "If plaine or homely, wee saie she is a doudie or a slut" [Barnabe Riche, "Riche his Farewell to Militarie profession," 1581].

You don't have to be dowdy to be a Christian. [Tammy Faye Bakker, "Newsweek," June 8, 1987]
Related: Dowdily; dowdiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for dowdy

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for dowdy

13
12
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for dowdy