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[skech-ee] /ˈskɛtʃ i/
adjective, sketchier, sketchiest.
like a sketch; giving only outlines or essentials.
Synonyms: cursory, rough, meager, crude.
imperfect, incomplete, slight, or superficial:
a sketchy meal.
  1. unreliable or unsafe:
    That street looks pretty sketchy.
  2. disreputable or shady:
    I'd stay away from him; he's got a sketchy past.
Origin of sketchy
First recorded in 1795-1805; sketch + -y1
Related forms
sketchily, adverb
sketchiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sketchy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I can't swear to any of these things; they're sketchy impressions.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • The sketchy nephew hinted that he might have fallen off a bridge.

  • It is a phrase that recurs at intervals in his sketchy "Confessions."

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • He could just write a kind of sketchy hand, and didn't care for writing at all.

    Youth Joseph Conrad
  • She is too young to endure it, sobbed the by-product to her of the sketchy face.

    Iole Robert W. Chambers
British Dictionary definitions for sketchy


adjective sketchier, sketchiest
characteristic of a sketch; existing only in outline
superficial or slight
(informal) uncertain or unreliable
Derived Forms
sketchily, adverb
sketchiness, noun
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 sketchy

1805, "having the form or character of a sketch," from sketch (n.) + -y (1). Colloquial sense of "unsubstantial, imperfect, flimsy" is from 1878, perhaps via the notion of "unfinished." Related: Sketchily; sketchiness.

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



Offering little information: sketchy details

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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