St. Audrey Laces

The following piece of writing was actually the first installment of a series of mails I wrote to a young sibling of mine.I had been reading a book called “Word Origins and Their Fascinating Stories” and I was pretty captivated with some of the tales.I took the opportunity to let my young friend learn some words through my casual mails. Just felt like sharing one of the mails here in my blog-


[initial parts skipped]……today I want to share a little idea with you.Hope you will like it.It is called “Story behind words”–

We learn to read when we are very young.
It makes us take words for granted.And yet words are exciting little things, fairly wriggling with life.We forget that there is nothing so filled with mystery as a word.We are apt to think that words just happen- they just become a part of our language.But in reality, each one has an elaborate history behind it- of birth, of life and sometimes even of death.If we follow that history far enough we will usually discover that a picture lies behind that word somewhere in the past.If you will search for these pictures, the study of words will become an interesting adventure, and you will find your vocabulary growing very fast!

I am bringing to you one such little story.. so that u meet a new word,know it well and give it a space in your vocabulary.

All right. So here’s the story for a word called “Tawdry”

Around the Seventh century in England, there lived a pious girl whose name was Etheldreda (Ethel-dre-da) and in short she was called Audrey.As she grew older she got interested in the teachings of church and decided to become a part of it.Being the wife of King of Northumberland,she founded a famous monastery at a place in England and became the chief of the nuns there.



Audrey had one vanity in her childhood.She loved beautiful necklaces and would borrow them and try them on secretly before the looking glasses of that time.After her death, she began to be referred to as “Saint Audrey”.

Centuries later the 17th of October , her birthday, came to be celebrated by a fair where scarfs called “St. Audrey laces” were sold.The scarfs used to be very attractive. These scarfs people used to wrap around their necks. With the passage of time, more and more scarfs began to be produced, however their quality went on to get degraded.

The local village people in their talks, called these low quality scarfs “Tawdry laces” instead of “St. Audrey laces”

In our modern word Tawdry,  the initial letter ‘t’ is all that is now left of the poor saint!


Now consider a sentence- “My dear, I met him yesterday and he was wearing the most tawdry outfit I have ever seen!”

So now you must have  figured out what tawdry means.-“something that is showy, but cheap and of poor quality.” just like St. Audrey’s scarfs!

We see in local markets, very showy kind of garments, but they are of poor quality. They are “tawdry garments”

Similarly there can be “Tawdry jewelry”

“The tawdry Chinese goods”


Easy to remember,right!Ok then.. hope you liked knowing this word. and will use it in your speech and writings with ease.