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Jan 14, 2020

Have you ever heard of the word ‘tacky’? This a word that I love. It’s actually more of an American term than an English one. I thought about this word yesterday as I was driving with my daughter. She was driving and I was looking out of the window at the different buildings and building signs. Here in the United States, business signs can tend to be very big, very tall, and very brightly colored. We had stopped at a traffic light, and on my right, I saw a hotel sign that said Super Eight. This is a chain of popular, cheap hotels here in the US. The sign was very high, very large, and bright yellow with red letters. I thought to myself, “How tacky!” Now tacky means two things. The first and original meaning is sticky. The second meaning is cheap, and bad taste. I decided to look into the etymology of the word, meaning it’s history. Interestingly enough, it was originally used to describe a weak horse. Perhaps there is a connection between a weak horse and the word tacky because of the production of glue from animal bones. That is just my guess. It is interesting how words develop and change their meanings over time. Nowadays in the United States it is very normal to hear the word ‘tacky’ describing something that is cheap, gaudy, and very bad taste. Personally I like the sound of it. It is easy to say, and sounds like a slap. Often we use the phrase, “That is not tacky (at all)” to sarcastically call something tacky, to point out its tackiness. Examples of these sentences can be quite amusing.

Examples of ‘tacky’:

1. The paint is still tacky, so don’t touch it yet.

2. I can’t believe that she wore that beach dress to the funeral, how tacky!

3. It’s tacky to give a present that someone else gave you.

4. Put the glue on the wood first, then, when it has dried a little, and is tacky, you can put the new countertop on.

5. So many souvenir shops are full of cheap, plastic, tacky items.

6. I see that you decorated the Christmas cake with broken, plastic reindeer. Ha! That’s not tacky at all!

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