gaudy (adj.)

"showy, tastelessly rich," c. 1600; earlier "joyfully festive" (1580s), probably a re-adjectivizing of gaudy (n.) "large, ornamental bead in a rosary" (early 14c.) via the noun gaud + -y (2.). In early Modern English it also could mean "full of trickery" (1520s).

Or possibly the adjective is from or influenced by Middle English noun gaudegrene (early 14c.), name of a yellowish-green color or pigment, originally of dye obtained from the weld plant (see weld (n.1)). This Germanic plant-name became gaude in Old French, and thus the Middle English word. Under this theory, the sense shifted from "weld-dye" to "bright ornamentation."

As a noun, "feast, festival" 1650s, from gaudy day "day of rejoicing" (1560s).

updated on February 24, 2015

Definitions of gaudy from WordNet
gaudy (adj.)
tastelessly showy;
a gaudy costume
gaudy (adj.)
(used especially of clothes) marked by conspicuous display;
Synonyms: flashy / jazzy / showy / sporty
gaudy (n.)
(Britain) a celebratory reunion feast or entertainment held a college;
From, not affiliated with etymonline.