Another interesting entry today in my Garner's Usage Tip of the Day:
meretricious (= alluring by false show) has not lost its strong etymological connection with the Latin word for "prostitute" (meretrix). A "meretricious marriage" is one that involves either unlawful sexual connection or lack of capacity on the part of one party. Outside law, though, the word is typically figurative, meaning "tawdry and showy without substance or merit" -- e.g.: "Of course, there's also another reason to spurn some of these costly new mansions. . . . They look like starter homes on steroids, like Disney cartoons, like health clubs and encyclopedias of kitsch. We're talking bad taste. Tacky, gross, ostentatious, meretricious, vulgar, fake, phony, dreadful." Colin Campbell, "Historic Real Estate Market Exists Far Afield," Atlanta J. & Const., 27 Nov. 2001, at B3.
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