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[thred-bair] /ˈθrɛdˌbɛər/
having the nap worn off so as to lay bare the threads of the warp and woof, as a fabric, garment, etc.
wearing threadbare clothes; shabby or poor:
a threadbare old man.
meager, scanty, or poor:
a threadbare emotional life.
hackneyed; trite; ineffectively stale:
threadbare arguments.
Origin of threadbare
First recorded in 1325-75, threadbare is from the Middle English word thredbare. See thread, bare1
Related forms
threadbareness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for threadbare
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The threadbare suit which he wore must have seen long service and either it had never been a very trim fit or he had lost flesh.

    Roy Blakeley in the Haunted Camp Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • Once these terms were strange and new; now they are old and threadbare.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Alexander Maclaren
  • The boy himself, dressed in a threadbare and patched black serge, had a sickly appearance.

  • If the first is unworn and the second is frayed and threadbare, pray for him.

    The Guardian Angel Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • His threadbare clerical jacket seemed several sizes too large for him.

    The Following of the Star Florence L. Barclay
British Dictionary definitions for threadbare


(of cloth, clothing, etc) having the nap worn off so that the threads are exposed
meagre or poor: a threadbare existence
hackneyed: a threadbare argument
wearing threadbare clothes; shabby
Derived Forms
threadbareness, 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 threadbare

mid-14c., from thread (n.) + bare. The notion is of "having the nap worn off," leaving bare the threads.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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