Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Crudely indecent.
  • adjective Deficient in taste, consideration, or refinement.
  • adjective Given to crudity or tastelessness, as in one's behavior.
  • adjective Offensively excessive in self-display or expenditure; ostentatious.
  • adjective Spoken by or expressed in language spoken by the common people; vernacular.
  • adjective Of or associated with the great masses of people; common.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to the common people; suited to or practised among the multitude; plebeian: as, vulgar life; vulgar sports.
  • Common; in general use; customary; usual; ordinary.
  • Hence, national; vernacular: as, the vulgar tongue; the vulgar version of the Scriptures; in zoology and botany, specifically, vernacular or trivial, as opposed to scientific or technical, in the names or naming of plants and animals. See pseudonym, 2.
  • Pertaining or belonging to the lower or less refined class of people: unrefined; hence, coarse; offensive to good taste; rude; boorish; low; mean; base: as, vulgar men, language, minds, or manners.
  • Synonyms and Ordinary, etc. See common.
  • Rustic, low-bred.
  • noun A vulgar person; one of the common people: used only in the plural.
  • noun The vernacular tongue or common language of a country.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete One of the common people; a vulgar person.
  • noun obsolete The vernacular, or common language.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to the mass, or multitude, of people; common; general; ordinary; public; hence, in general use; vernacular.
  • adjective Belonging or relating to the common people, as distinguished from the cultivated or educated; pertaining to common life; plebeian; not select or distinguished; hence, sometimes, of little or no value.
  • adjective Hence, lacking cultivation or refinement; rustic; boorish; also, offensive to good taste or refined feelings; low; coarse; mean; base.
  • adjective (Arith.) See under Fraction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Debased, uncouth, distasteful, obscene.
  • adjective classical sense Having to do with ordinary, common people.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective conspicuously and tastelessly indecent
  • adjective being or characteristic of or appropriate to everyday language
  • adjective of or associated with the great masses of people
  • adjective lacking refinement or cultivation or taste

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, of or relating to the common people, from Latin vulgāris, from vulgus, the common people.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English, from Latin vulgāris, from volgus, vulgus ("mob; common folk"), from Proto-Indo-European *wl̥k- (compare Welsh gwala ("plenty, sufficiency"), Ancient Greek ἁλία (halia, "assembly") εἰλέω (eileō, " to compress"), Old Church Slavonic вєликъ (velikŭ, "great").

Examples

  • And it was he that might rightly say, _Veni, vidi, vici_; which to _anatomise_ in the vulgar, (_O base and obscure vulgar_!) _Videlicet_, he came, saw, and overcame ...

    The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded

  • And do not suppose, senor, that I apply the term vulgar here merely to plebeians and the lower orders; for everyone who is ignorant, be he lord or prince, may and should be included among the vulgar.

    Don Quixote

  • And do not suppose, senor, that I apply the term vulgar here merely to plebeians and the lower orders; for everyone who is ignorant, be he lord or prince, may and should be included among the vulgar.

    The History of Don Quixote, Volume 2, Complete

  • And do not suppose, senor, that I apply the term vulgar here merely to plebeians and the lower orders; for everyone who is ignorant, be he lord or prince, may and should be included among the vulgar.

    The History of Don Quixote, Volume 2, Part 22

  • And do not suppose, senor, that I apply the term vulgar here merely to plebeians and the lower orders; for everyone who is ignorant, be he lord or prince, may and should be included among the vulgar.

    Don Quixote

  • Clear Channel Communications is suspending Howard Stern for what it calls vulgar, offensive and insulting content.

    CNN Transcript Feb 25, 2004

  • Clear Channel Communications is suspending Howard Stern for what it calls vulgar, offensive and insulting content.

    CNN Transcript Feb 25, 2004

  • Mr. Nichols acknowledges that what he calls a vulgar error was current and popular, that in some part of the Abbey Caxton did erect his press, yet we are expected to submit to the almost unsupported dictum of that gentleman, and renounce altogether the old and almost universal idea.

    Notes and Queries, Number 51, October 19, 1850

  • He distinguishes with his usual clearness between the different ranks of those employed in the production and exchange of goods, and intimates that his advice is not intended for the highest grade of traders, the merchants, whom he defines by what he calls the vulgar expression, as being “such as trade beyond sea.”

    Daniel Defoe

  • He distinguishes with his usual clearness between the different ranks of those employed in the production and exchange of goods, and intimates that his advice is not intended for the highest grade of traders, the merchants, whom he defines by what he calls the vulgar expression, as being "such as trade beyond sea."

    Daniel Defoe

Comments

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  • "I have none,

    And none would have: My love's a noble madness,

    Which shows the cause deserved it. Moderate sorrow

    Fits vulgar love, and for a vulgar man:

    But I have loved with such transcendent passion,

    I soared, at first, quite out of reason's view,

    And now am lost above it."

    - John Dryden, 'All For Love'.

    December 12, 2008