Chintzy & Tawdry
On today’s program,
William from Charlevoix asked about two synonyms: chintzy and tawdry. Both mean
cheap, substandard, and unfashionable.
Chintzy is the adjective
form of chintz, a Hindi word. Chintz was a painted or stained calico imported
from India. The name was extended to include cheap cotton cloth stained with
patterns, often containing many garish colors.
Tawdry is a shortened
form of tawdry lace. It was neckware, a sort of tie or lace necklace favored by
women in the 16th and early 17th century. In turn, tawdry
is a shorted form of St. Audrey. Venerable Bede explained the origin in his Ecclesiastical History. St. Audrey (aka Ethelreda) died of a neck tumor. She
considered it fitting because as a young woman, she was sinfully vain,
frequently adorning herself with splendid necklaces. So what started as
something expensive and fashionable eventually degenerated into cheap and gaudy
versions favored by country wenches.
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