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[slee-zee, sley-zee] /ˈsli zi, ˈsleɪ zi/
adjective, sleazier, sleaziest.
contemptibly low, mean, or disreputable:
sleazy politics.
squalid; sordid; filthy; dilapidated:
a sleazy hotel.
thin or poor in texture, as a fabric; cheap; flimsy:
a sleazy dress; a sleazy excuse.
Origin of sleazy
1635-45; (def 3) of obscure origin (probably unrelated to Silesia other than by folk etymology); sense of defs 1, 2 (first attested 1941) perhaps represent a distinct word
Related forms
sleazily, adverb
sleaziness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sleazy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If too large, on the other hand, the work is apt to be sleazy.

  • This pretense, this sleazy imitation of your old room is wrong.

    Moment of Truth Basil Eugene Wells
  • Joe watched his narrow, bent shoulders under the sleazy shirt.


    George Looms
  • “Oh yes, dating younger people is so sleazy,” Lester said with a chuckle.


    Cory Doctorow
  • He takes a kind of look-over at Hod, no collar nor nothing, and that sleazy coat of his'n.

    The Broken Gate Emerson Hough
British Dictionary definitions for sleazy


adjective -zier, -ziest
sordid; disreputable: a sleazy nightclub
thin or flimsy, as cloth
Derived Forms
sleazily, adverb
sleaziness, noun
Word Origin
C17: origin uncertain
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 sleazy

1640s, "downy, fuzzy," later "flimsy, unsubstantial" (1660s), of unknown origin; one theory is that it is a corruption of Silesia, the German region, where thin linen or cotton fabric was made for export. Silesia in reference to cloth is attested in English from 1670s; and sleazy as an abbreviated form is attested from 1670), but OED is against this. Sense of "sordid" is from 1941. Related: Sleazily; sleaziness.

A day is a more magnificent cloth than any muslin, the mechanism that makes it is infinitely cunninger, and you shall not conceal the sleazy, fraudulent, rotten hours you have slipped into the piece, nor fear that any honest thread, or straighter steel, or more inflexible shaft, will not testify in the web. [Emerson, "The Conduct of Life," 1860]

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



Disgusting; filthy; nasty; grungy, scuzzy: dirty buildings in sleazy sections/ a tremendous evocation of the sleazoid speed-freak scene/ who makes sleazo blood films

[entry form 1941+, second 1972+, third 1970s+; fr the late 1600s British sleasie, ''thin, flimsy, threadbare,'' of uncertain origin, whence it came to mean ''of inferior workmanship, shoddy''; perhaps fr Sleasie, ''Silesian,'' used of linen cloth from that part of Germany]

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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