Definitions

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

  • adj. Chiefly British Having a stale smell; musty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. musty; stuffy (atmosphere)

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

  • adj. stale and unclean smelling

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Alas, the taverns reputation declined over the years and by 1775 Garrick was referring to the frowsty bowers of the Dog and Duck as peopled with half-drunk fauns and dryads breaking lamps.

    Bedlam

  • Placed on Diana's left at table, he gave her much voluble information about her neighbors, mostly ill-natured; he spoke familiarly of "that clever chap Marsham," as of a politician who owed his election for the division entirely to the good offices of Mr. Fred Birch's firm, and described Lady Lucy as "an old dear," though very "frowsty" in her ideas.

    The Testing of Diana Mallory

  • Lisa Spirling's production has a frowsty, precise design by Polly Sullivan and makes a shot at an interesting question: what makes people collude with horror?

    Richard III; Lullaby; Hundreds & Thousands – review

  • This is a street party that has rendered the street invisible, blocking off the frowsty buildings, replacing traffic with communal tables set with vases of spring flowers, even lowering the no doubt sullen sky with a breezy foliage of flags and bunting.

    The big picture: a coronation street party in Islington, London, 1937

  • Explore it from the bottom of the bill and you'll encounter something different: tracts of featureless industrial estates, a world in which Wolseley police cars clatter under railway bridges in Croydon and mid-price actors occupy frowsty suburban drags.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Sometimes I suspected that my uncle liked the frowsty old play because he acted the part of the Father in it, with one scene of tearful rejoicing that his son had come of age at the beginning, one of tearful lamentation when he thought his son dead near the middle, and one of tearful reunion when his son appeared alive and well at the end.

    Wicked Will

  • Roger & Gallet Signature Mini Guest Soaps -- (tip: store the soap in linens closets, sock drawers, etc ... and freshen up the frowsty air!)

    sur-le-champ - French Word-A-Day

  • There was bedding at the back, rolled up; and at the front of the room a frowsty old woman in a chair picked half-heartedly at some needlework.

    Excerpt: Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett

  • She took out the thimble and looked at it again in the dim, swaying interior of the frowsty carriage.

    A Wicked Gentleman

  • Roger & Gallet Signature Mini Guest Soaps -- tip: store the soap in linens closets, sock drawers, etc... and freshen up the frowsty air!

    French Word-A-Day:

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  • "They and their damp, close-packed beds filled the unventilated 'tween-decks with a strong, all-pervading smell of frowsty carnivores, far worse than the collection of vegetarian marsupials Stephen had carried from New Holland in an earlier voyage..."
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Surgeon's Mate, 291-292

    February 9, 2008