adjective, grub·bi·er, grub·bi·est.

dirty; slovenly: children with grubby faces and sad eyes.
infested with or affected by grubs or larvae.
contemptible: grubby political tricks.

Origin of grubby

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

Synonyms for grubby



noun, plural grub·bies.

a small sculpin, Myxocephalus aenaeus, inhabiting waters off the coast of New England.

Origin of grubby

origin uncertain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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

dirty; slovenly
mean; beggarly
infested with grubs
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper