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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The local stone was made into key rings and other tourist kitsch.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1926, from German kitsch, literally "gaudy, trash," from dialectal kitschen "to smear."\n\nWhat we English people call ugliness in German art is simply the furious reaction against what Germans call süsses Kitsch, the art of the picture postcard, and of what corresponds to the royalty ballad. It has for years been their constant reproach against us that England is the great country of Kitsch. Many years ago a German who loved England only too well said to me, 'I like your English word plain; it is a word for which we have no equivalent in German, because all German women are plain.' He might well have balanced it by saying that English has no equivalent for the word Kitsch.

[Edward J. Dent, "The Music of Arnold Schönberg," "The Living Age," July 9, 1921]


a. Said especially of art and decor that is considered to be of questionable aesthetic value; excessively sentimental, overdone or vulgar. n. art, decorative objects and other forms of representation of questionable artistic or aesthetic value; a representation that is excessively sentimental, overdone, or vulgar.

  1. adj. of a display that is tawdry or vulgar [syn: ostentatious, pretentious]

  2. n. art in pretentious bad taste


Kitsch (; loanword from German, also called cheesiness and tackiness) is a low-brow style of mass-produced art or design using popular or cultural icons. The word was first applied to artwork that was a response to certain divisions of 19th-century art with aesthetics that favored what later art critics would consider to be exaggerated sentimentality and melodrama. Hence, 'kitsch art' is closely associated with 'sentimental art'. Kitsch is also related to the concept of camp, because of its humorous and ironic nature.

To brand visual art as "kitsch" is generally pejorative, as it implies that the work in question is gaudy, or that it deserves a solely ornamental and decorative purpose rather than amounting to a work of true artistic merit. The chocolate box artist Thomas Kinkade (1958–2012), whose idyllic landscape scenes were often lampooned by art critics as "maudlin" and "schmaltzy," is considered a leading example of contemporary kitsch.

The term is also sometimes applied to music.

Kitsch (magazine)

Kitsch is a magazine jointly produced by students of Cornell University and Ithaca College. It prints feature journalism, fiction, opinions, art, and miscellaneous shorter pieces; one of its taglines reads: "Where fact and fiction meet." The relatively unrestricted scope of the publication ensures that any thought-provoking topic may be considered for a feature. Originally a biannual publication written and assembled by a small handful of interested students, its membership and financial standing have both grown to the point at which producing three issues per year has occasionally been possible.

Kitsch (disambiguation)

Kitsch is the German word denoting art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art.

Kitsch may also refer to:

  • Kitsch (magazine), collegiate publication of Cornell University and Ithaca College
  • Taylor Kitsch, Canadian actor and model

Usage examples of "kitsch".

Stalinist lapels and hemlines into spangly kitsch, the Day-Glo designer industrial-waste outlets vending pet elements from beyond the actinide seriesin all this synthetic needs-mongering, Kraft and Linda stumble upon a bookstore.

He stopped, drew his shapes, walked on, stopped, drew, walked, on to the spired old-century cragginess of Nabob Bridge, and over quickly through Kinken where the richer khepri moieties, older money and arriviste, preserved their dreamed-up culture in the Plaza of Statues, kitsch mythic shapes in khepri-spit.

Scapellini: Even now, in the days of holograms and digital sound and computer effects, nothing can equal the final show of Commonsense for sheer kitsch bravura and bad taste.

And so I did, and the hotel's Olde New England kitsch had charmed the socks off the foreign scholars, who found it a refreshing change from the modern university locales that had characterized most of the other Congresses.

Trundling forward to fill the breadth of the gates was a fifteen-foot study in kitsch: a sculpted representation of Saints Creaze and Evendown, standing shoulder to shoulder, their arms stretched out towards the yearning crowd, while their eyes rolled in their carved sockets like those of carnival dummies, looking down on their flock as if affrighted by them one moment and up to heaven the next.

A rogue advertisement sneaks through his junkbuster proxy and spams glowing fifties kitsch across his navigation window – which is blinking – for a moment before a phage process kills it and spawns a new filter.