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

  • adj. Divided into squares.
  • adj. Marked by light and dark patches; diversified in color.
  • adj. Marked by great changes or shifts in fortune: a checkered career.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Simple past tense and past participle of checker.
  • adj. divided into squares, or into light and dark patches.
  • adj. changeable; inconsistent; having variations or uncertainty

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Marked with alternate squares or checks of different color or material.
  • adj. Diversified or variegated in a marked manner, as in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Marked with squares or checkers, like a checker-board; exhibiting squares of different colors; hence, broken into different colors or into lights and shadows.
  • Figuratively, variegated with different qualities, scenes, or events; crossed with good and bad fortune.
  • Having the wing marked with numerous white spots, larger in size and fewer in number than in the condition termed spangled: used in describing breeds of pigeons.

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

  • adj. marked by changeable fortune
  • adj. patterned with alternating squares of color


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • You can be sure that the term checkered history will be trotted out for virtually every participant in this story.

    CNN Transcript Sep 17, 2007

  • It looks boring, I don't want to turn darker than I already am, and I don't look good in checkered pants.

    Archive 2004-06-01

  • The story was that those economies with what one might call a checkered past would be put on the straight and narrow by Germany, which, for reasons of history, had a deep aversion to fiscal irresponsibility and high inflation.

    Though a Debt-Default Would Hurt, Investors May Not Give Up on Greece

  • That fritt is also called a checkered lily for those markings.

    The Sunny Woodland-GBDW* « Fairegarden

  • After an undergraduate career that could charitably be described as checkered -- believe me, that is a charitable description -- I had been in the top ten of the class at the Michigan Law School, and had been looking for a job in a private law firm in Chicago, where I grew up.

    Re: Of Mamet And Chicago. Of Obamas And Elections

  • A 121-year-old white survivor of Custer's Last Stand recalls his checkered life with Cheyenne, Wild Bill Hickok and medicine shows. - News

  • I thought it was interesting that part of Kenseth's comments after the race were apologetic but neither driver discussed in detail their so-called checkered past.

    Yahoo! Sports - Top News

  • "Earp" avoids Hollywood gloss, recalling his checkered past and his work as an enforcer for a prostitution ring. stories: News

  • Such a double-width band with parted loops (half red half black) will result in a band that is black on the left and red on the right (or vice versa) if the loop taken turned is turned 360° and a kind of "checkered" band with black left and red right, then changing to red left and black right after a while and so on.

    To Loop or Not to Loop?

  • I can tell you, that as a registered independant, who basically votes Republican, but leans Libertarian, I like to know what Ann thinks about the candidates because of her, shall we say 'checkered' past voting record.

    On voting for a candidate because you think other people will like him — AKA The Kerry Mistake.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.