It is a little surprising that this currently fashionable term meaning ‘tawdry, in poor taste’ (describing such things as decor, jewellery, nightclubs, souvenirs, wallpaper, and taste in general) has nothing to do with the word meaning ‘slightly wet or sticky’, but is of American origin and is an extension of a noun tacky (or tackey) that was used disparagingly to describe a weak horse or a poor white person from the southern States. It is first recorded in the newer meaning in the 1880s in uses that sound modern, e.g.:

• Two little cards (with his name printed on them in gilt. Tackey? Ugh) —I. M. Rittenhouse, 1883.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • tacky — Ⅰ. tacky [1] ► ADJECTIVE (tackier, tackiest) ▪ (of glue, paint, etc.) slightly sticky because not fully dry. DERIVATIVES tackiness noun. Ⅱ. tacky [2] ► …   English terms dictionary

  • tacky — tacky1 [tak′ē] adj. tackier, tackiest [ TACK (n. 2c) + Y2] sticky: said as of varnish before it is fully dry tackiness n. ☆ tacky2 [tak′ē ] adj. tackier, tackiest …   English World dictionary

  • Tacky — Tack y, a. [Cf. {Techy}, {Tack} a spot.] Sticky; adhesive; raw; said of paint, varnish, etc., when not well dried. [U. S.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tacky — Tack y, a. [Etymol. uncert.] 1. Dowdy, shabby, or neglected in appearance; unkempt. [Local, U. S.] [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. In poor taste; appearing cheap; gaudy; unstylish. Broadly used to describe objects whose style is disapproved of by the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tacky — Tack y, n. [Written also {tackey}.] An ill conditioned, ill fed, or neglected horse; also, a person in a like condition. [Southern U. S.] [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tacky — [adj] cheap, tasteless broken down, crude, dilapidated, dingy, dowdy, down atheel*, faded, frumpy*, gaudy, inelegant, mangy*, messy, nasty*, outmoded, out ofdate, poky*, ratty, run down, seedy, shabby, shoddy, sleazy*, sloppy*, slovenly, stodgy,… …   New thesaurus

  • tacky — I. adjective (tackier; est) Etymology: 2tack Date: 1788 somewhat sticky to the touch < tacky varnish >; also characterized by tack ; adhesive II. adjective ( …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • tacky — tack|y [ˈtæki] adj [Sense: 1 2; Date: 1800 1900; Origin: tacky horse in poor condition (1800 1900).] [Sense: 3; Date: 1700 1800; Origin: TACK1] 1.) if something is tacky, it looks cheap or badly made, and shows poor taste ▪ tacky ornaments 2.)… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • tacky — [[t]tæ̱ki[/t]] tackier, tackiest 1) ADJ GRADED: usu ADJ n (disapproval) If you describe something as tacky, you dislike it because it is cheap and badly made or vulgar. [INFORMAL] ...a woman in a fake leopard skin coat and tacky red sunglasses …   English dictionary

  • tacky — 1. mod. cheap; crude. □ That was a tacky thing to do to her. □ That was so tacky! □ This is sort of a tacky gift for a wedding. 2. mod. alcohol intoxicated. □ To …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

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