Recently I wanted to write an essay about the women in Jane Austin's time. I wrote the women at that time were concerned much about how to be engaged to a decent husband. Not like women nowadays, they want to be treated equally as men and realize their value in society. So I want to say the women back in Jane Austin's time, their viewpoint toward life was too vulgar. I am not sure if I use this word correctly or it will convey a totally different meaning. Could you please help me?

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    Technically "vulgar" might fit, but if you study the definitions it generally implies an unseemly nature -- likely not what you mean.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 1, 2016 at 23:07
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    I think you have got hold of completely the wrong word here. Vulgar in no way describes Jane Austen's women. Donald Trump is vulgar, especially when he talks about the size of his private parts. The Austen women were domestic, usually genteel, mannerly, thoughtful, decorous, proper, polite, seemly etc. I can't think of any who were vulgar.
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2016 at 23:26

2 Answers 2


From Merriam-Webster

1 a: generally used, applied, or accepted b: understood in or having the ordinary sense

2: vernacular

3 a: of or relating to the common people : plebeian b: generally current : public c: of the usual, typical, or ordinary kind

4 a: lacking in cultivation, perception, or taste : coarse b: morally crude, undeveloped, or unregenerate : gross c: ostentatious or excessive in expenditure or display : pretentious

5 a: offensive in language : earthy b: lewdly or profanely indecent

And without a strong context to the contrary, meanings 4 and 5 are predominant in modern speech. So vulgar is certainly not appropriate as a description of Austen's characters.

You are indulging in a revisionist view of the role of women in society. In fact, in Austen's class and society, marriage was the only "value in society" with any value. Spinsters and governesses were the only widely-accepted alternatives. Political power is forbidden, as was almost any paid employment.

You can say that women were marginalized, that their choices were severely limited or constrained, or that their roles were narrowly-defined. But not vulgar.


I can find my left hand vulgar if looking upon it offends me.

Yes, vulgar can be used to describe a meaningless life. But if I only said your life was vulgar without any other context you'd hardly know I was complaining about how meaningless it was. Only that something about it offends me.





lacking sophistication or good taste; unrefined.

"the vulgar trappings of wealth"

synonyms: tasteless, crass, tawdry, ostentatious, flamboyant, overdone, showy, gaudy, garish, brassy, kitsch, kitschy, tinselly, loud; informal flash, flashy, tacky

"the decor was lavish but vulgar"

impolite, ill-mannered, unmannerly, rude, indecorous, unseemly, ill-bred, boorish, uncouth, crude, rough;

unsophisticated, unrefined, common, low-minded;

unladylike, ungentlemanly

"it is vulgar to belch in public"

making explicit and offensive reference to sex or bodily functions; coarse and rude.

"a vulgar joke"

synonyms: rude, indecent, indelicate, offensive, distasteful, coarse, crude, ribald, risqué, naughty, suggestive, racy, earthy, off-color, bawdy, obscene, profane, lewd, salacious, smutty, dirty, filthy, pornographic, X-rated; informal sleazy, raunchy, blue, locker-room; saucy, salty; euphemistic adult

"a vulgar joke"


characteristic of or belonging to the masses.

google: vulgar

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