Word of the Day

Friday, December 12, 2003

meretricious

\mer-ih-TRISH-us\ , adjective;
1.
Of or pertaining to prostitutes; having to do with prostitutes.
2.
Alluring by vulgar or flashy display; gaudily and deceitfully ornamental; tawdry; as, "meretricious dress."
3.
Based on pretense or insincerity; as, "a meretricious argument."
Quotes:
Let us be thought over-much plain and simple, even bare, rather than gaudy, flashy, cheap and meretricious.
-- Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City
The shiny marble, bronze and brass, the gilded building crowns, the gaudy Atlantic City casinos, the spangled showgirls: it all adds up in their eyes to vulgar excess, an unsophisticate's delight in meretricious baubles.
-- Herbert Muschamp, "Trump, His Gilded Taste, and Me", New York Times, December 19, 1999
His star as a fashionable painter was, however, already dimming and every exhibition of new work was met with a merciless fusillade from the critic of the Tribune, Clarence Cook, who upbraided Bierstadt for his addiction to vulgar, flashy, and visually meretricious effects.
-- Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory
The panel's use of this argument was rejected as "disingenuous", "fallacious" and "meretricious" by the majority of the Ninth Circuit.
-- Penney Lewis, "Rights discourse and assisted suicide", American Journal of Law & Medicine, Spring 2001
Origin:
Meretricious comes from Latin meretricius, from from meretrix, meretric-, prostitute, from merere, to earn, to deserve. It is related to merit, to earn, to deserve.
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