If you look up chintzy, you’ll find that it means:

1. of, like, or decorated with chintz.
2. cheap, inferior, or gaudy.

But these days we don’t all know what chintz really is, right? I had some vague recollection that it was a kind of fabric, but that was where my memory ended. I was, in fact, correct–chintz is a brightly colored cotton fabric that is then glazed, usually used for upholstery or drapery. The word has been in use since 1719, from Hindi. It began as the singular chint, but was soon used in the plural form. No one’s quite sure why it was spelled with a -z instead of an -s to make it plural, but there you go.

This fabric was made quite cheaply in India, which made it very common . . . and hence looked down on. George Eliot was the first to use chintzy in a disparaging sense, in 1851.

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