Etymology 1Edit

Origin uncertain; perhaps from gaud (ornament, trinket) +‎ -y, perhaps ultimately from Old French gaudir (to rejoice).

Alternatively, from Middle English gaudi, gawdy (yellowish), from Old French gaude, galde (weld (the plant)), from Frankish *walda, from Proto-Germanic *walþō, *walþijō, akin to Old English *weald, *wielde (>Middle English welde, wolde and Anglo-Latin walda (alum)), Middle Low German wolde, Middle Dutch woude. More at English weld.

A common claim that the word derives from Antoni Gaudí, designer of Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, is incorrect: the word was in use centuries before Gaudí was born.


gaudy (comparative gaudier, superlative gaudiest)

  1. very showy or ornamented, now especially when excessive, or in a tasteless or vulgar manner
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene iii]:
      Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, / But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy.
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
      The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendour, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.
    • 1887, Homer Greene, Burnham Breaker:
      A large gaudy, flowing cravat, and an ill-used silk hat, set well back on the wearer's head, completed this somewhat noticeable costume.
    • 2005, Thomas Hauser & Marilyn Cole Lownes, "How Bling-bling Took Over the Ring", The Observer, 9 January 2005
      Gaudy jewellery might offend some people's sense of style. But former heavyweight champion and grilling-machine entrepreneur George Foreman is philosophical about today's craze for bling-bling.
  2. (obsolete) fun; merry; festive
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Tennyson to this entry?)
Derived termsEdit


gaudy (plural gaudies)

  1. One of the large beads in the rosary at which the paternoster is recited.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Gower to this entry?)

Etymology 2Edit

Latin gaudium (joy). Doublet of joy.


gaudy (plural gaudies)

  1. A reunion held by one of the colleges of the University of Oxford for alumni, normally held during the summer vacations.