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adjective, rick·et·i·er, rick·et·i·est.
  1. likely to fall or collapse; shaky: a rickety chair.
  2. feeble in the joints; tottering; infirm: a rickety old man.
  3. old, dilapidated, or in disrepair.
  4. irregular, as motion or action.
  5. affected with or suffering from rickets.
  6. pertaining to or of the nature of rickets.
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Origin of rickety

First recorded in 1675–85; ricket(s) + -y1
Related formsrick·et·i·ness, noun


See more synonyms for rickety on Thesaurus.com
2. decrepit, frail, withered, unsteady, wobbly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rickety

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He lit a candle, and went cautiously down the rickety staircase.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • There was a thud as his fist hit the rickety, squeaking table in the center of the room.

  • I perceive the altar to be rickety and the Commandments damp.

  • Another, a third, and a fourth gust rattled and shook the rickety frame.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Under the washshed, which adjoined the kitchen, was a rickety door.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for rickety


  1. (of a structure, piece of furniture, etc) likely to collapse or break; shaky
  2. feeble with age or illness; infirm
  3. relating to, resembling, or afflicted with rickets
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Derived Formsricketiness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from rickets
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 rickety


"liable to fall down," 1680s, from rickets (with + -y (2)), via notion of "weak, unhealthy." Literal sense is from c.1720 but never common in English. Of material things, from 1799.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper