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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Dyson was stunned by the vulgarity of it.
▪ It was a difficult subject done well by a medium that often celebrates the banality and vulgarity of our culture.
▪ Mistakenly, I had expected a stereotyped vulgarity.
▪ The vulgarity had a lasting impression on me.
▪ Their vulgarity, loudness and lack of manners scandalized their hosts.
▪ They'd done it in Gaelic to cover up the vulgarity.
▪ What the former valued as a proper earthiness and sensuality, the latter condemned as mere vulgarity.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Vulgarity \Vul*gar"i*ty\, n. [Cf. F. vulgarit['e], L. vulgaritas the multitude.]

  1. The quality or state of being vulgar; mean condition of life; the state of the lower classes of society.
    --Sir T. Browne.

  2. Grossness or clownishness of manners of language; absence of refinement; coarseness.

    The reprobate vulgarity of the frequenters of Bartholomew Fair.
    --B. Jonson.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1570s, "the common people," from Middle French vulgarité and directly from Late Latin vulgaritas "the multitude," from vulgaris (see vulgar). Meaning "coarseness, crudeness" is recorded from 1774.


n. 1 (context uncountable English) The quality of being vulgar. 2 (context countable English) An offensive or obscene act or expression.


n. the quality of lacking taste and refinement [syn: coarseness, commonness, grossness, vulgarism, raunch]


Vulgarity is the quality of being common, coarse, or unrefined. This judgement may refer to language, visual art, social classes, or social climbers. John Bayley claims it may never be self-referential because, to be aware of vulgarity is to display a degree of sophistication which thereby elevates the subject above the vulgar.

From the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, "vulgar" simply described the common language or vernacular of a country. From the mid-seventeenth century onward, it began to take on a pejorative aspect: "having a common and offensively mean character, coarsely commonplace; lacking in refinement or good taste; uncultured; ill bred". In the Victorian age, vulgarity broadly described many sorts of activity, such as pushing to get on a bus, wearing ostentatious clothing, and other similarly subtle aspects of behavior. In a George Eliot novel, one character could be vulgar for talking about money, a second because he criticizes the first for doing so, and a third for being fooled by the excessive refinement of the second.

In language, the effort to avoid vulgarity could leave characters at a loss for words. In George Meredith's Beauchamp's Career, an heiress does not wish to make the commonplace statement that she is "engaged", nor "betrothed", "affianced", or "plighted". Though such words are not vulgarity in the vulgar sense, they nonetheless could stigmatize the user as a member of a socially inferior class. Even favored euphemisms such as toilet eventually become stigmatized like the words they replace, and currently favored words serve as a sort of " cultural capital".

A vulgarity, or vulgar speech or language, can refer to language which is offensive or obscene, synonymous with the 'general' meaning of profanity.

Usage examples of "vulgarity".

The tumult of luxury entertained him: the blasts of chypre from the birds, the hissing farthingales and Hainault lace, the net stockings and gem stuck pumps, the headdresses starched and spangled and meshed and fluted, the plucked eyebrows and frizzled hair, the lynx, genet and Calabrian sable stinking in the wet, the gauzy cache-nez drawn over nose and chin in the gardens and referred to in the careless vulgarity of the mode as coffins a roupies.

He felt she was undignified, she put a sort of vulgarity over the esotericism which gave man his last distinction.

There was, however, a species of vulgarity about Hogg, which marred his otherwise estimable qualities, and his uncouth Johnsonian habits were probably the means of erecting a barrier between himself and more cultivated friends.

Great Meeting, for She-Who-Creates-by-Speaking-Its-Name felt that the animals represented the various elements of human nature adequately, be it vulgarity or greed or guile or ill-temper or pride or stubbornness or any other thing.

England, where the mawkish sentiment of the music-halls, and the popular applause it receives, is enough to make a healthy man sick, and is only equalled by music-hall vulgarity.

Yet, while amendment in these matters is to be striven for, there is nothing that the teacher who wishes to establish habits of orthoepy has to be more watchful in guarding against, than bestowing upon his pupils an affected or mincing utterance, all the more ludicrous and objectionable, it may be, in that a certain set of words are pronounced with over-nicety, while almost all others are left in a state of neglected vulgarity.

To her his vulgarity, cruelty and salacity were offset by another qualityhis enormous capacity for enjoymenttogether with the knowledge that she herself was what he particularly liked.

A sad marriage has taken place in our Rome, Seca, between superb taste and grossest vulgarity.

However tumultuous the ungartered life of the Court, the old King had never allowed vulgarity to penetrate the Throne Room.

In the process, Vonnegut reviews with bright venom the apotheoses of advertising, Chamber of Commercism, joinerism, and vulgarity that the new society has arrived at, with particular emphasis on the moral climate of the time.

I concede, it may be a triumph of vulgarity, require no talent, and suit a mediocrity, but there can hardly be any impotence in this case.

Fitzgerald or not, however, it must be allowed that the vulgarity, servility, and gross absurdity of the newspaper scribblers is well rendered.

Place du Tertre they had known when Maigret was starting at the desk in a police-station, certainly, but it was amusing all the same, it was now a coloured fairground, noisy, more aggressive in its vulgarity.

This, it follows easily, involves the corollary that as faith, to be of any value, must be based on reason, so reason, to be of any value, must be based on faith, and that neither can stand alone or dispense with the other, any more than culture or vulgarity can stand unalloyed with one another without much danger of mischance.

Then he proceeded to pen a series of articles that, it is unanimously agreed, mark a nadir of vulgarity and personal vituperation even in the midst of the by no means genteel journalistic exchanges of the mid-1860s.