bawdy

Bawdy describes humor that is vulgar or off-color. Things that are bawdy are a little inappropriate, intended to be funny, and definitely not the kind of things you want to say in school.

Bawdy jokes are inappropriate, but they're not totally explicit or graphic — a movie with a little bit of bawdy humor might be rated PG-13, rather than R. Still, you probably don't want to recite bawdy poems in front of your fussy Aunt Irma, your clergyperson, or your math teacher. The exact etymology of this word is uncertain, but it is formed from the Middle English noun bawd, meaning "a lewd or licentious person."

Definitions of bawdy
  1. adjective
    humorously vulgar
    bawdy songs”
    synonyms: off-color, ribald
    dirty
    (of behavior or especially language) characterized by obscenity or indecency
  2. noun
    lewd or obscene talk or writing
    “they published a collection of Elizabethan bawdy
    synonyms: bawdry
    see moresee less
    type of:
    dirty word, filth, obscenity, smut, vulgarism
    an offensive or indecent word or phrase
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week