"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[mer-i-trish-uh s] /ˌmɛr ɪˈtrɪʃ əs/
alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry.
based on pretense, deception, or insincerity.
pertaining to or characteristic of a prostitute.
Origin of meretricious
1620-30; < Latin meretrīcius of, pertaining to prostitutes, derivative of meretrīx prostitute = mere-, stem of merēre to earn + -trīx -trix; see -ous
Related forms
meretriciously, adverb
meretriciousness, noun
unmeretricious, adjective
unmeretriciously, adverb
unmeretriciousness, noun
Can be confused
meritorious, meretricious.
1. showy, gaudy. 2. spurious, sham, false. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for meretricious
  • Some of it is downright meretricious; much of it is mediocre or second-rate.
  • All others are meretricious and probably vile.
  • What a load of meretricious codswallop.
  • Don't prattle on here with your meretricious verbiage of immaculateness.
  • Much that was presumptuous and meretricious withered under his gaze.
  • This is a thoroughly meretricious analogy.
  • Nothing is turgid or meretricious, strange or fantastic.
  • This is meretricious in the extreme.
  • The plot could make a meretricious popular novel three times its size.
  • But there are longueurs and passages of meretricious vulgarity.
British Dictionary definitions for meretricious


superficially or garishly attractive
insincere: meretricious praise
(archaic) of, like, or relating to a prostitute
Derived Forms
meretriciously, adverb
meretriciousness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin merētrīcius, from merētrix prostitute, from merēre to earn money
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 meretricious

1620s, "pertaining to harlots," from Latin meretricius "of or pertaining to prostitutes," from meretrix (genitive meretricis) "prostitute," literally "woman who earns money," from merere, mereri "to earn, gain" (see merit (n.)). Meaning "gaudily alluring" is from 1630s. Related: Meretriciously; meretriciousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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