General English


  • adjective shabby, seedy, inferior, vulgar. An American term which had existed in southern speech in the USA since the late 19th century, before being understood (in the early 1970s) and partially adopted (in the late 1970s) in Britain. The origin is not in ‘tacky’, meaning sticky or viscous, but in a dialect word for an inferior horse, hence a shabby yokel. ‘Tack-e-e-e’ is the last word and final verdict in the main text of Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (1975), an exposé of show-business scandal.