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[mee-zlee] /ˈmi zli/
adjective, measlier, measliest.
  1. contemptibly small, meager, or slight:
    They paid me a measly fifteen dollars for a day's work.
  2. wretchedly bad or unsatisfactory:
    a measly performance.
infected with measles, as an animal or its flesh.
pertaining to or resembling measles.
Origin of measly
First recorded in 1680-90; measl(es) + -y1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for measly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Well, I'd lost the whole blamed chunk on a pair of measly aces," he said.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • A measly hundred and fifty dollars a month and find yourself.

    Lord Jim Joseph Conrad
  • I forced that much from the Chilcat when I had the measly wretch upon his back.

  • The muscles are sometimes full of them, and the pig is then said to be “measly.”

    Animal Parasites and Messmates P. J. Van Beneden
  • Do you think I am going to break my neck for your measly ten dollars?

British Dictionary definitions for measly


adjective -slier, -sliest
(informal) meagre in quality or quantity
(of meat) measled
having or relating to measles
Word Origin
C17: see measles
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for measly

"affected with measles," 1680s, from measle (see measles) + -y (2); sense of "meager and contemptible" first recorded 1864 in British slang.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for measly



Contemptibly inadequate; petty: Should I work for a measly five bucks an hour? (1864+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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