Definition of dowdy in English:


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adjectiveadjective dowdier, adjective dowdiest

  • (of a person or their clothes) unfashionable and without style in appearance (typically used of a woman)

    ‘she could achieve the kind of casual chic that made every other woman around her look dowdy’
    • ‘Gone is the willowy beauty, and in her place is a thin, pinched, dowdy lady, an eccentric Victorian who wears ugly hats.’
    • ‘Uncomfortable with her ‘frumpy’ appearance, she has replaced dowdy suits with bright blouses, employs a celebrity hairdresser and takes a makeup artist to rallies.’
    • ‘On the cover of Time, in a spread in Life, the image of Romania's Iron Lady was stout and unsmiling, a monolith with a face of stone, dowdy clothes and unkempt hair.’
    • ‘She writes a weekly series called The Beseleys for a nameless and dowdy woman's magazine of the sort Dewar helped to fill when she was a jobbing journalist.’
    • ‘After all those years of boring white coats for doctors and dowdy gowns for patients, finally the medical label is meeting the fashion label.’
    • ‘How else to explain her deglamorized look and dowdy outfit?’
    • ‘Several dowdy ladies gravitated towards them, bringing cups plates and enquiring minds.’
    • ‘Our living room does not have any character, unless that character is a dowdy matron who has a full-time gig as a toy tester.’
    • ‘Only the dowdy daughter, Martha, treats him with kindness, teaching him to read and shielding him occasionally from her siblings' harshest jibes.’
    • ‘Far from being a dowdy matron, she was a strong-willed, independent-minded, intelligent woman, twice married, with a mischievous sense of humour.’
    • ‘Denise was last seen on our screens playing the dowdy mother of six, Edie McClure, in Born & Bred.’
    • ‘There is the same comic contrast between the characters' unbridled enthusiasm and their dowdy clothing and heavy Eastern European accents.’
    • ‘By the end of Ann's episode, the formerly dowdy Jersey girl is certainly more stylish.’
    • ‘His hands, which he'd put lightly on his wife's shoulders to persuade her to go home, felt something very irregular underneath that sensible, dowdy dress.’
    unfashionable, frumpish, frumpy, drab, dull, old-fashioned, outmoded, out of style, not smart, inelegant, badly dressed, ill-dressed, shabby, scruffy, faded, untidy, dingy, frowzy
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/ˈdoudē/ /ˈdaʊdi/


Late 16th century (as a noun): from dowd.