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See more synonyms for measly on Thesaurus.com
adjective, mea·sli·er, mea·sli·est.
  1. Informal.
    1. contemptibly small, meager, or slight: They paid me a measly fifteen dollars for a day's work.
    2. wretchedly bad or unsatisfactory: a measly performance.
  2. infected with measles, as an animal or its flesh.
  3. pertaining to or resembling measles.
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Origin of measly

First recorded in 1680–90; measl(es) + -y1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for measly

paltry, meager, miserly, miserable, pitiful, puny, beggarly, contemptible, insignificant, mean, niggling, pathetic, petty, picayune, piddling, poor, scanty, stingy, trifling, trivial

Examples from the Web for measly

Contemporary Examples of measly

Historical Examples of measly

  • "Well, I'd lost the whole blamed chunk on a pair of measly aces," he said.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • A measly hundred and fifty dollars a month and find yourself.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

  • I forced that much from the Chilcat when I had the measly wretch upon his back.

  • The muscles are sometimes full of them, and the pig is then said to be “measly.”

  • Do you think I am going to break my neck for your measly ten dollars?

British Dictionary definitions for measly


adjective -slier or -sliest
  1. informal meagre in quality or quantity
  2. (of meat) measled
  3. having or relating to measles
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Word Origin for measly

C17: see measles
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 measly


"affected with measles," 1680s, from measle (see measles) + -y (2); sense of "meager and contemptible" first recorded 1864 in British slang.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper