GAUDY, an adjective meaning showy, very bright, gay, especially with a sense of tasteless or vulgar extravagance, of colour or ornament. The accurate origin of the various senses which this word and the substantive "gaud" have taken are somewhat difficult to trace. They are all ultimately to be referred to the Lat. gaudere, to rejoice, gaudium, joy, some of them directly, others to the French derivative gaudir, to rejoice, and O. Fr. gaudie. As a noun, in the sense of rejoicing or feast, "gaudy" is still used of a commemoration dinner at a college at the university of Oxford. "Gaud," meaning generally a toy, a gay adornment, a piece of showy jewelry, is more specifically applied to larger and more decorative beads in a rosary.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)