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


[dou-dee] /ˈdaʊ di/
noun, plural dowdies.
1935-40; short form Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dowdy
  • The stage is littered with empty soda cans, dusty phonographs, articles of dowdy clothing and flung shoes.
  • His low-res computer graphics struck some as dowdy and irrelevant, and so did his target market.
  • Here are seven well-priced coats that are chic enough to break through those dowdy gray clouds.
  • In its new marketing campaign, the footwear company is trying to move beyond the image of its dowdy clog original.
  • And if it wasn't the apron, it was its dowdy relative, the housedress.
  • If they are able to find easy-access clothing, it is often dowdy.
  • Underneath her rolls of fat and dowdy dresses beats the heart of a peevish grandame.
  • These are good dowdy stocks for downturns in the market.
  • It is a conventional and even dowdy uniform if one wears it without some wink of impiety.
  • After a decade or so of frenzied development, the region's once-dowdy urban landscapes have changed beyond recognition.
British Dictionary definitions for dowdy


adjective -dier, -diest
(esp of a woman's dress) drab, unflattering, and old-fashioned
noun (pl) -dies
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
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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
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