Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of a dull grayish to yellowish brown.
  • adj. Of a light olive brown or khaki color.
  • adj. Faded and dull in appearance.
  • adj. Dull or commonplace in character; dreary: a drab personality. See Synonyms at dull.
  • n. A dull grayish to yellowish or light olive brown.
  • n. Cloth of this color or of an unbleached natural color.
  • n. A slattern.
  • n. A woman prostitute.
  • intransitive v. To consort with prostitutes: "Even amid his drabbing, he himself retained some virginal airs” ( Stanislaus Joyce).
  • n. A negligible amount: finished the work in dribs and drabs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fabric, usually of thick wool or cotton, having a drab blee.
  • n. A wooden box, used in salt works for holding the salt when taken out of the boiling pans.
  • adj. Dull, uninteresting, particularly of colour.
  • n. A dirty or untidy woman; a slattern.
  • n. A promiscuous woman, a slut; a prostitute.
  • v. To consort with prostitutes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of a color between gray and brown.
  • n. A low, sluttish woman.
  • n. A lewd wench; a strumpet.
  • n. A wooden box, used in salt works for holding the salt when taken out of the boiling pans.
  • n. A kind of thick woolen cloth of a dun, or dull brownish yellow, or dull gray, color; -- called also drabcloth.
  • n. A dull brownish yellow or dull gray color.
  • intransitive v. To associate with strumpets; to wench.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To associate with strumpets.
  • n. A thick woolen cloth of a yellowish-gray color.
  • n. A yellowish-gray tint.
  • Of a yellowish-gray color, like the cloth so called.
  • n. A slut; a slattern.
  • n. A strumpet; a prostitute.
  • n. A kind of wooden box used in salt-works for holding the salt when taken out of the boiling-pans. Its bottom is shelving or inclining, that the water may drain off.
  • n. An English collectors' name for a number of noctuid moths of a drab color: as, the clouded drab, Tæniocampa instabilis; the northern drab, T. opima; the lead-colored drab, T. populeti.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking in liveliness or charm or surprise
  • adj. of a light brownish green color
  • adj. lacking brightness or color; dull
  • adj. causing dejection
  • n. a dull greyish to yellowish or light olive brown

Etymologies

Alteration of obsolete French drap, cloth, from Old French; see drape.
Possibly of Celtic origin; akin to Scottish Gaelic dràbag and Irish Gaelic drabóg, slattern, or from Dutch drab, dregs.
Probably alteration of drib.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English, meaning "color of undyed cloth", from Middle French drap ("cloth"), from Late Latin drappus ("drabcloth, kerchief") (6th century, Vita Caesaris Arelatis), from Gaulish *drappo,[2] from Proto-Indo-European *drep- (“to scratch, tear”) (compare Old Norse trof ("fringes"), trefja ("to rub, wear out"), Lithuanian drãpanos ("household linens"), Serbo-Croatian drápati ("to scratch, scrape"), Ancient Greek δρέπω (drépein, "to pluck"), Avestan drafša ("flag, banner"), Sanskrit द्रापि (drāpí, "mantle, gown")).[3] (Wiktionary)
Origin uncertain; probably compare Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag ("dirty woman"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I was often told to cut my hair, to wear shorter heels, to dress in drab colors.

    Krystal Ball: The Next Glass Ceiling

  • A young student of Germans and Jews, supporting himself on grant money and dressed warmly in drab sidewalk grays, beset by his ideas and his passion, he announces, “They are an immoral gaggle of sleazy, lying, undemocratic and dangerous, ulterior motive-driven despots.”

    COCOONED • by J.A. Matthews

  • The language is difficult to understand and it is just plain drab to read.

    Bilingual And Esl Classrooms: Bilingual And English-as-a-second-language Classrooms « Books « Literacy News

  • I objected to the fact that most movies, even period movies, show the poor people in drab colors and torn costumes.

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • Lasting sometimes for days in drab locales, drizzle can move large amounts of water from the atmosphere.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • The streets were dominated by men in drab clothes; boys carried trays of coffee and tea into offices; and the bus station was a jumble of produce stands amid lines of vehicles departing at no particular time — no disadvantage for me, because this was a traditional society in which strangers are immediately looked after.

    Israel Now

  • 'Silicon Roundabout' was what Matt Biddulph, of social network Dopplr, sarcastically dubbed the drab Old Street and City Road junction in July 2008.

    The tech startup stars

  • Things are generally pretty gray and drab, which is sort of a bummer and leaves posts less dynamic than they could (or ought to) be, and the typography doesn't do much to alleviate this feeling of sameness throughout the app.

    Original Signal - Transmitting Gadgets

  • Why then are the majority of the players sent out in playing attire that can only be described as drab?

    Top stories from Times Online

  • But beyond the idea that we'd never analyze the leg-crossing, "drab" tendencies of Justice Samuel Alito (though Givhan has criticized John Roberts for being too well put together), or the fact that, as Daily Intel points out, Kagan actually does cross her legs, there are three great ironies to this piece:

    Robin Givhan Is SUPER-Pissed That Kagan Won't Cross Her Legs Like a Lady. (But Wait, Givhan Doesn’t Cross Her Legs, Either!)

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Comments

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  • As a colour (Shorter OED):
    A dull, light brown.
    "Woe to white gowns! Woe to black! Drab was your only wear." (M.R. Mitford)

    April 12, 2008

  • Noun form (Shorter OED):
    A dirty, untidy woman; a slut, a slattern

    April 12, 2008

  • Bard in reverse.

    July 22, 2007