a. Crudely indecent: a vulgar joke.
b. Deficient in taste, consideration, or refinement: "that vulgar jockeying for position around the bedside of the gravely ill" (Susan Sontag).
c. Given to crudity or tastelessness, as in one's behavior: "He relentlessly vilified the studio executives as vulgar, ignorant hoodlums" (Marion Meade).
d. Offensively excessive in self-display or expenditure; ostentatious: the huge vulgar houses and cars of the newly rich.
2. Spoken by or expressed in language spoken by the common people; vernacular: the technical and vulgar names for an animal species.
3. Of or associated with the great masses of people; common.
[Middle English, of or relating to the common people, from Latin vulgāris, from vulgus, the common people.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.