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[vuhl-ger] /ˈvʌl gər/
characterized by ignorance of or lack of good breeding or taste:
vulgar ostentation.
indecent; obscene; lewd:
a vulgar work; a vulgar gesture.
crude; coarse; unrefined:
a vulgar peasant.
of, relating to, or constituting the ordinary people in a society:
the vulgar masses.
current; popular; common:
a vulgar success; vulgar beliefs.
spoken by, or being in the language spoken by, the people generally; vernacular:
vulgar tongue.
lacking in distinction, aesthetic value, or charm; banal; ordinary:
a vulgar painting.
Archaic. the common people.
Obsolete. the vernacular.
Origin of vulgar
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin vulgāris, equivalent to vulg(us) the general public + -āris -ar1
Related forms
vulgarly, adverb
vulgarness, noun
unvulgar, adjective
unvulgarly, adverb
unvulgarness, noun
1. unrefined, inelegant, low, coarse, ribald. See common. 3. boorish, rude. 6. colloquial.
Usage note
Terms that are labeled Vulgar in this dictionary are considered inappropriate in many circumstances because of their association with a taboo subject. Major taboo subjects in English-speaking countries are sex and excretion and the parts of the body associated with those functions. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vulgar
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had no aptitude for aimlessness, and moreover thought it vulgar.

    The Tragic Muse Henry James
  • To play upon the silver-voiced flute is Theban-like and vulgar.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • When they cannot get luxuries they fill themselves with vulgar puddings till they nearly burst.

  • She was quite unable to repress a vulgar interest in the menials that served her.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • I have said that Mr. Charrington's name was bandied about among the sensual and the vulgar—all over England—as a term of reproach.

    The Great Acceptance Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
British Dictionary definitions for vulgar


marked by lack of taste, culture, delicacy, manners, etc: vulgar behaviour, vulgar language
(often capital; usually prenominal) denoting a form of a language, esp of Latin, current among common people, esp at a period when the formal language is archaic and not in general spoken use
  1. of, relating to, or current among the great mass of common people, in contrast to the educated, cultured, or privileged; ordinary
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the): the vulgar
Derived Forms
vulgarly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin vulgāris belonging to the multitude, from vulgus the common people
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 vulgar

late 14c., "common, ordinary," from Latin vulgaris "of or pertaining to the common people, common, vulgar," from vulgus "the common people, multitude, crowd, throng," from PIE root *wel- "to crowd, throng" (cf. Sanskrit vargah "division, group," Greek eilein "to press, throng," Middle Breton gwal'ch "abundance," Welsh gwala "sufficiency, enough"). Meaning "coarse, low, ill-bred" is first recorded 1640s, probably from earlier use (with reference to people) with meaning "belonging to the ordinary class" (1530).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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