a. Attracting attention in a vulgar manner: meretricious ornamentation.
b. Plausible but false or insincere; specious: made a meretricious argument.
2. Of or relating to prostitutes or prostitution: meretricious relationships.
[Latin meretrīcius, of prostitutes, from meretrīx, meretrīc-, prostitute, from merēre, to earn money; see (s)mer-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.