ST. AUDREY'S LACE
The word tawdry, which today means "gaudy", originally referred to a popular type of lace necklace worn by women in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. However, when the Puritans came to power in the mid-1600s, the material fell out of fashion and the term came to be applied to ostentatious things in general. It gets better: the phrase tawdry lace is actually a contraction of St. Audrey's lace. The Anglo-Saxon queen was traditionally associated with lace necklaces because she was said to have died of a throat cancer that she considered God's punishment for wearing too many necklaces in her youth. The name Audrey, or Æðelðryð as it was spelled back then, comes from Germanic roots meaning "noble" and "might" and was actually popularized by the saint.
9/1/2022 11:36:55 am
Keep 'em coming! I learned this story in last week's I Read Shakespeare group, hosted by Robin Williams. The group detours into derivations, usages at various times, and discussion of just about anything. :-)
Leave a Reply.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.