AskDefine | Define gaudy

Dictionary Definition

gaudy adj
1 tastelessly showy; "a flash car"; "a flashy ring"; "garish colors"; "a gaudy costume"; "loud sport shirts"; "a meretricious yet stylish book"; "tawdry ornaments" [syn: brassy, cheap, flash, flashy, garish, gimcrack, loud, meretricious, tacky, tatty, tawdry, trashy]
2 (used especially of clothes) marked by conspicuous display [syn: flashy, jazzy, showy, sporty] n : a celebratory feast held annually at one of the colleges in a British university [also: gaudiest, gaudier]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

  1. Possibly from Middle English, gaude, meaning ornament or trinket, itself perhaps from Old French gaudir "to rejoice".
  2. Folk etymology attributes origin as stemming from the name of the Catalonian architect, Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926).



  1. Excessively showy or ornamented in a tasteless or vulgar manner.

Etymology 2

From Latin gaudium "joy".



  1. A reunion held by one of the colleges of the University of Oxford for alumni, normally held during the summer vacations.

Extensive Definition

Gaudy or Gaudie (from the Latin, "gaudium", meaning "enjoyment" or "merry-making") is a term used typical to reflect student life in a number of the ancient universities in the United Kingdom. It is generally believed to relate to the traditional student song, De Brevitate Vitae (On the Shortness of Life), which is commonly known as the Gaudeamus by virtue of its first line.

University of Oxford

At the University of Oxford is a special feast held by one of the colleges. It is often a reunion for its "old members" (alumni). The origin of the term may be connected to the traditional University graduation song, Gaudeamus.
Gaudies generally involve a celebratory formal dinner, generally in black tie and academic gowns (scarlet festal robes for doctors), and may include events such as chapel services, lectures or concerts beforehand. For reunions, the invitees are generally graduate alumni from a number of (usually two or three) consecutive matriculation years, e.g. 1972-5. Typically, Gaudies are held for each year-group on around a ten-year cycle.

Universities of Dundee and St Andrews

At the University of Dundee, Gaudie Nights are traditional student celebrations involving the issue of junior students with senior 'academic parents' in order to introduce them to higher education and to provide socialisation. These events are usually held a short time after the institution's Freshers' Week. The Night itself involves the academic parents (typically one male, one female) taking their younger charges out for an evening's entertainment at the parent's expense.
These evenings are followed by a Raisin Night which is used by the junior students to thank the academic parents (usually in a ritualised fashion) for Gaudie Night. This typical happens at some point in the early winter of the first semester.
Similar traditions remain at Dundee's parent institution, the University of St Andrews, but are however incorporated into a Raisin Weekend and the term Gaudie Night is not used for the first night. St Andrews has a separate ceremony known as the Gaudie which involves a torchlight procession and singing of the Gaudeamus in memory of a student who risked his life in 1800 to save survivors of a shipping accident offshore.

University of Aberdeen

At the University of Aberdeen, The Gaudie is the name of the newspaper produced under the auspices of the Aberdeen University Students' Association.

Cultural references

The Lord Peter Wimsey mystery Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers, is set at such a reunion at a fictional women's college at Oxford.


See also

Gaudy is also an English adjective, meaning "excessively showy in a tasteless or vulgar manner".

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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