• synonyms


See more synonyms for drab on Thesaurus.com
adjective, drab·ber, drab·best.
  1. dull; cheerless; lacking in spirit, brightness, etc.
  2. having the color drab.
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  1. dull gray; dull brownish or yellowish gray.
  2. any of several fabrics of this color, especially of thick wool or cotton.
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Origin of drab

1535–45; < Middle French drap < Late Latin drappus piece of cloth
Related formsdrab·ly, adverbdrab·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for drabness

insipidness, dreariness, blandness, flatness, stodginess, vapidity, dryness, insipidity, dinginess, gloominess, boringness

Examples from the Web for drabness

Contemporary Examples of drabness

Historical Examples of drabness

  • The rays of the setting sun brought out the drabness of her.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • So began a merry interlude in the drabness of the Handsomebody regime.

    Explorers of the Dawn

    Mazo de la Roche

  • There was time to see the drabness of his boarding place, so he changed it.


    George Looms

  • Neither dress nor ceremony had yet been curtailed by the drabness of Democracy.

    Seaport in Virginia

    Gay Montague Moore

  • Michael enjoyed Mr. Neech's eccentricities after the drabness of the Special.

    Sinister Street, vol. 1

    Compton Mackenzie

British Dictionary definitions for drabness


adjective drabber or drabbest
  1. dull; dingy; shabby
  2. cheerless; drearya drab evening
  3. of the colour drab
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  1. a light olive-brown colour
  2. a fabric of a dull grey or brown colour
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Derived Formsdrably, adverbdrabness, noun

Word Origin for drab

C16: from Old French drap cloth, from Late Latin drappus, perhaps of Celtic origin


  1. a slatternly woman
  2. a whore
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verb drabs, drabbing or drabbed
  1. (intr) to consort with prostitutes
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Word Origin for drab

C16: of Celtic origin; compare Scottish Gaelic drabag
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

Word Origin and History for drabness



1680s, "color of natural, undyed cloth," from Middle French drap (see drape (n.)). Figurative sense is c.1880. Apparently not related to earlier word meaning "a dirty, untidy woman" (1510s), "a prostitute" (1520s), which seems to be connected with Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag "dirty woman," and perhaps with Low German drabbe "dirt." Ultimately perhaps from PIE *dher- "to make muddy." Meaning "small, petty debt" (the sense in dribs and drabs) is 1828, of uncertain connection to the other senses.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with drabness


see dribs and drabs.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.