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[shab-ee] /ˈʃæb i/
adjective, shabbier, shabbiest.
impaired by wear, use, etc.; worn:
shabby clothes.
showing conspicuous signs of wear or neglect:
The rooms on the upper floors of the mansion had a rather shabby appearance, as if they had not been much in use of late.
wearing worn clothes or having a slovenly or unkempt appearance:
a shabby person.
run-down, seedy, or dilapidated:
a shabby hotel.
meanly ungenerous or unfair; contemptible, as persons, actions, etc.:
shabby behavior.
inferior; not up to par in quality, performance, etc.:
a shabby rendition of the sonata.
Origin of shabby
1660-70; shab (Middle English; Old English sceabb scab) + -y1; cognate with German schäbig
Related forms
shabbily, adverb
shabbiness, noun
unshabbily, adverb
unshabby, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for shabbier
Historical Examples
  • His face was drawn and haggard, and his clothes were shabbier than ever.

    Gabriel Tolliver Joel Chandler Harris
  • The Khri, was a native, and his robes could not well have been dirtier or shabbier.

    Tent Work in Palestine Claude Reignier Conder
  • The pavement grew rougher and dirtier, the houses and small shops that lined the street, shabbier and shabbier.

    Letty and the Twins Helen Sherman Griffith
  • But in 1799 there were no shabbier Democrats than those of Connecticut.

  • All the shabbier suburbs are dwarfs, and none drop so suddenly and go so near the ground as the suburbs of the north-east.

    London Impressions Alice Meynell
  • I could have borne with his being thinner and older; but that he should be shabbier wrung my heart.

    The High Heart Basil King
  • But toward the end of the season the Beans got shabbier than ever.

    Torchy As A Pa Sewell Ford
  • After what seemed a very long drive, they reached the shabby court and shabbier house where the Wrights lived.

    How It All Came Round L. T. Meade
  • The satin holiday coats that I knew so well were more threadbare, shabbier.

    Jewish Children Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich
  • The father remained the same—poorer, shabbier, and more dissolute-looking, but the same confirmed and irreclaimable drunkard.

    Sketches by Boz Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for shabbier


adjective -bier, -biest
threadbare or dilapidated in appearance
wearing worn and dirty clothes; seedy
mean, despicable, or unworthy: shabby treatment
dirty or squalid
Derived Forms
shabbily, adverb
shabbiness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Old English sceabbscab + -y1
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 shabbier



1660s, of persons, "poorly dressed," with -y (2) + shab "a low fellow" (1630s), literally "scab" (now only dialectal in the literal sense, in reference to a disease of sheep), from Old English sceabb (the native form of the Scandinavian word that yielded Modern English scab; also see sh-). Cf. Middle Dutch schabbich, German schäbig "shabby."

Of clothes, furniture, etc., "of mean appearance, no longer new or fresh" from 1680s; meaning "inferior in quality" is from 1805. Figurative sense "contemptibly mean" is from 1670s. Related: Shabbily; shabbiness. Shabby-genteel "run-down but trying to keep up appearances, retaining in present shabbiness traces of former gentility," first recorded 1754. Related: Shabaroon "disreputable person," c.1700.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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