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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for shabbily
Historical Examples
  • For answer she caught his coat in her shabbily gloved little hands.

    The Story Of Julia Page Kathleen Norris
  • The song sparrows, by the way, treated me shabbily this season.

    The Foot-path Way Bradford Torrey
  • He, too, was shabbily dressed—his coat being shiny and napless, and his vest lacking two out of the five original buttons.

    Hector's Inheritance Horatio Alger
  • At that moment a strange man, shabbily dressed, entered the shop.

  • Sometimes a little bitterness intermingled, and she felt herself aggrieved at having been so shabbily treated by her old chum.

    The Guinea Stamp Annie S. Swan
  • "Sorry to treat you shabbily, old man," he said, when they were alone.

  • It seemed the most natural thing in the world for Charlotte to take this strange, shabbily dressed little girl into her embrace.

    How It All Came Round L. T. Meade
  • And there was big, handsome, Eddie Arledge, whose father had treated him shabbily.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • There sat a shabbily dressed woman, with anxious, frightened-looking face, the seat full of bundles and a pale-faced baby in arms.

  • You have asked the most shabbily dressed person in Elberthal to be your companion.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
British Dictionary definitions for shabbily


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 shabbily



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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