/ (ˈpɒksɪ) /
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adjective poxier or poxiest slang
having or having had syphilis
rotten; lousy
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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


What does poxy mean?

Poxy is an informal word used to call something rotten, lousy, or worthless. It is based on the literal sense of poxy, meaning that someone has the pox (either syphilis or smallpox).

Pox is a general name given to a type of disease in which pus-filled bumps or sores form on the skin. Poxy isn’t really used in the literal sense anymore. Its use as a mildly insulting term is most often seen in the U.K. and Ireland.

Example: I wouldn’t be caught dead in that poxy pub.

Where does poxy come from?

Poxy goes back at least to the 1750s in the literal sense. It comes from pox combined with the suffix -y (seen in words like juicy and sticky). Pox is a variant of pocks, the plural of pock (as in pockmark), referring to a blister or pustule. Earlier forms of poxy included poxed and pocky, and both referred to having smallpox or syphilis (which is sometimes called great pox).

The sense of poxy meaning “rotten” came into use in English by the 1900s. The migration to this use happened in the same way as lousy (“having lice”) and mangy (“having mange”)—in which a specific condition or disease was turned into a general word for something negative. As a slang term, poxy is less common than other alternatives, like bloody.

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What are some other forms of poxy?

  • poxier
  • poxiest
  • pox

What are some synonyms for poxy?

What are some words that share a root or word element with poxy?

How is poxy used in real life?

In the U.K. and Ireland, poxy is used in much the same way as lousy or any adjective that conveys frustration with or contempt of something.


Try using poxy!

Which of the following sentences uses poxy correctly?

A. These poxy new shoes make me feel great.
B. These lovely roses smell absolutely poxy.
C. That poxy thief stole all my money.

How to use poxy in a sentence

  • So I goes to him, and 'accept this poxy commission,' says I; 'turn King's man and save your neck and ours.'

    Captain Blood|Rafael Sabatini
  • Paul said, "What ever happened to those poxy flying saucers?"

    I'm a Stranger Here Myself|Dallas McCord Reynolds