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

  • adj. Resembling a sketch; giving only major points or parts.
  • adj. Lacking in substance or completeness; incomplete.
  • adj. Slight; superficial.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Roughly or hastily laid out; intended for later refinement.
  • adj. Resembling a comedy sketch, of sketch quality.
  • adj. Of questionable or doubtful quality.
  • adj. Suspected of taking part in illicit or dishonorable dealings.
  • adj. Disturbing or unnerving, often in such a way that others may suspect them of intending physical or sexual harm or harassment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Containing only an outline or rough form; being in the manner of a sketch; incomplete.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having the form or character of a sketch; suggesting in outline rather than portraying by finished execution: as, a sketchy narrative.
  • Characteristic of a sketch; slight; undetailed; unfinished.

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

  • adj. giving only major points; lacking completeness


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

sketch +‎ -y


  • Pretty Little Liars' new guy Caleb has been described as a "sketchy guy with a heart of gold," but after last week's episode it seems he just may be the former.

    Pretty Little Liars' Tyler Blackburn: It Becomes More Clear Who Caleb Is

  • She gave him an anti-inflammatory called Deremaxx (which I'm pretty sure is the brand of condom they sell in sketchy gas station men's rooms) and told him to take it easy for a week.

    Dogs get old too

  • In one particularly interesting example, we see him reconstruct a massive Roman temple, the Temple of Fortune, but in sketchy form, with "how they did it" merging with "how I'd do it."

    Andrea Palladio's influential architecture at National Building Museum

  • Some of the details of the proposed reforms remain sketchy, and those details are important.

    Ending Welfare as Britain Knows It

  • Regulation either requires more cops, which are an expensive kind of work force, or automated systems, which are sketchy from a legal point of view.

    What Causes Traffic Jams? You. - Freakonomics Blog -

  • As far as details go, they remain sketchy at most.

    Blog De Ganz | Archive | September

  • The details remain sketchy as, by that time, both his mother and grandmother were dead, both having taken their secret to the grave, and Nicholson subsequently had next-to-no contact with his real father.

    Jack Nicholson, Father Bob + Search for 2.0 Truth

  • Much has been said about this critic as a peculiarly powerful teacher, but de Man's influence on academic literary and cultural criticism far exceeds the limits of an identifiable school or clique, and often manifests itself in sketchy and unacknowledged fashion within scholarly work that may not desire (or even know that it has) a filiation to de Manian rhetorical reading.


  • The details of the Henan incident remain sketchy and the number of casualties is in dispute.


  • I took the Fung Wah bus both ways - don't believe people who say the chinatown buses are "sketchy" - they were awesome.

    misspinkkate Diary Entry


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

  • Language Log on sketchy: (via Nancy Friedman, who notes that Merriam-Webster online is alone in providing the newer meaning).

    June 7, 2010

  • used to refer to a person or location of questionable reputation

    March 25, 2008