adjective, rick·et·i·er, rick·et·i·est.

likely to fall or collapse; shaky: a rickety chair.
feeble in the joints; tottering; infirm: a rickety old man.
old, dilapidated, or in disrepair.
irregular, as motion or action.
affected with or suffering from rickets.
pertaining to or of the nature of rickets.

Origin of rickety

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

Synonyms for rickety

2. decrepit, frail, withered, unsteady, wobbly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rickety

Contemporary Examples of rickety

Historical Examples of rickety

  • The men kept the water under with the pumps, and the sharp jerk, jerk of the rickety handles rang all night.

  • Ashton-Kirk nodded, but before he could reply in words there came a clatter upon the rickety stairs at the far end of the entry.

  • He was a dangerous man to tackle in argument if your knowledge of the subject was rickety.

  • It was really bad weather, and the waves washed clean over the rickety little vessel.

  • With this reply Old Sharon held out his unwashed hand across the rickety ink-splashed table at which he was sitting.

    My Lady's Money

    Wilkie Collins

British Dictionary definitions for rickety



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

Word Origin for rickety

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper