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adjective, grub·bi·er, grub·bi·est.
  1. dirty; slovenly: children with grubby faces and sad eyes.
  2. infested with or affected by grubs or larvae.
  3. contemptible: grubby political tricks.
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Origin of grubby

First recorded in 1605–15; grub + -y1
Related formsgrub·bi·ly, adverbgrub·bi·ness, noun

Synonyms for grubby

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noun, plural grub·bies.
  1. a small sculpin, Myxocephalus aenaeus, inhabiting waters off the coast of New England.
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Origin of grubby

origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for grubby

shabby, unkempt, messy, grimy, grungy, seedy, squalid, filthy, soiled, black, foul, frowzy, impure, nasty, scruffy, sloppy, slovenly, smutty, sordid, unclean

Examples from the Web for grubby

Contemporary Examples of grubby

Historical Examples of grubby

  • From the miserable camp pup he glanced at the grubby face of Jamie.

  • The cleaner-by-the-day will do the grubby things and I shall like it.

    Jane Journeys On

    Ruth Comfort Mitchell

  • And the boy had scrambled to his feet to extend a grubby paw.

  • They made their way through a swarm of grubby children, and entered the porch.

  • So, reversing the order of Nature, the butterfly had retired into a 'grubby' state.

    The Convert

    Elizabeth Robins

British Dictionary definitions for grubby


adjective -bier or -biest
  1. dirty; slovenly
  2. mean; beggarly
  3. infested with grubs
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Derived Formsgrubbily, adverbgrubbiness, 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

Word Origin and History for grubby


"dirty," by 1845, from grub (n.) in a sense of "dirty child" (who presumably got that way from digging in earth) + -y (2). Earlier it was used in a sense of "stunted, dwarfish" (1610s) and "infested with grubs" (1725). Related: Grubbily; grubbiness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper