Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Showing signs of wear and tear; threadbare or worn-out.
  • adjective Dilapidated or deteriorated in condition, especially through neglect; seedy.
  • adjective Wearing threadbare clothing.
  • adjective Despicable; mean.
  • adjective Not generous or just; unfair.
  • adjective Of mediocre or substandard quality.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Scabby; mangy.
  • Mean; base; scurvy.
  • Of mean appearance; noting clothes and other things which are much worn, or evidence poverty or decay, or persons wearing such clothes; seedy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Torn or worn to rage; poor; mean; ragged.
  • adjective Clothed with ragged, much worn, or soiled garments.
  • adjective Mean; paltry; despicable.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Torn or worn; poor; mean; ragged.
  • adjective Clothed with ragged, much worn, or soiled garments.
  • adjective Mean; paltry; despicable.

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

  • adjective showing signs of wear and tear
  • adjective mean and unworthy and despicable

Etymologies

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

[From obsolete shab, scab, from Middle English schab, from Old English sceabb.]

Examples

  • It is not the shabby coat that will make the gentleman look shabby, no more than the fine coat can ever make _the shabby_ look like the gentleman.

    Tales and Novels — Volume 09

  • I did my best to do a neat job but it was still ... umm ... let's call it shabby chic.

    Archive 2007-12-01

  • I would simply suggest that as a work of art it has been able to do this precisely because it has "style," avoids sentimentality and predictability, and doesn't manipulate "our emotions" in shabby and shallow ways.

    Saying Something

  • Something that did not say "I slum around in shabby robes your grandmother might have made from the curtains."

    mrissa: Mostly I am more vivid than this by a long shot.

  • They were mostly short, hangdog-cheerful men in shabby suits.

    Interlude – Cafe Nekropolis « Unknowing

  • She’d slept in shabby pensions, practicing a frugality that was foreign to her at this stage of her life, buying nothing but variations of the same postcards her father sent now.

    Excerpt: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Certainly not all of our poor kids, but many, do indeed live in shabby apartments where books are considered unaffordable, but life revolves around an ever-flickering large-screen TV.

    Tales Out of School

  • Certainly not all of our poor kids, but many, do indeed live in shabby apartments where books are considered unaffordable, but life revolves around an ever-flickering large-screen TV.

    Tales Out of School

  • I've lived in shabby and I have lived in chic and I was equally happy in both.

    Contentment At Home

  • Then two more old men in shabby suits, a gangsta in a wifebeater shirt swearing in Spanish, an Indian couple with three bawling children, a tall black man in a Sonics T-shirt, then a pretty young woman with a tangle of blond hair,

    Excerpt: The Fallen by T Jefferson Parker

Comments

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

  • “It's not to shabby is it?�? Said Jonny Ive.

    February 19, 2008

  • Citation on woozy.

    October 27, 2008

  • "Webb afforded me amusing incidents during the day; we approached the front of a house in the Via de Mercurio, another shabby unshaven attendant was standing outside. He looked like a bag of laundry with a head on. He indicated a boxed partition on the wall. 'Vediamo questo?' he said, and the innuendo was that of something 'naughty'.

    'Si,' I said fluently.

    - Spike Milligan, 'Mussolini: My Part In His Downfall.'

    April 18, 2009