adjective, scrawn·i·er, scrawn·i·est.

excessively thin; lean; scraggy: a long, scrawny neck.

Origin of scrawny

1825–35, Americanism; variant of dial. scranny < Norwegian skran lean + -y1
Related formsscrawn·i·ly, adverbscrawn·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for scrawny

Antonyms for scrawny Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scrawny

Contemporary Examples of scrawny

Historical Examples of scrawny

  • I conceived a contempt for that shaven, scrawny skipper––I remember it well.

  • Debby Alden at twenty-five had been scrawny, hard-featured and severe.

  • She was scrawny and flat-chested, but agile as a boy when occasion demanded.

    The Eagle's Heart

    Hamlin Garland

  • "It would have a better chance for its life if it were lean and scrawny," said Mr. Morris.

    Beautiful Joe

    Marshall Saunders

  • They're double, you see, and don't look like the scrawny things you see in this country.

British Dictionary definitions for scrawny


adjective scrawnier or scrawniest

very thin and bony; scraggy
meagre or stuntedscrawny vegetation
Derived Formsscrawnily, adverbscrawniness, noun

Word Origin for scrawny

C19: variant of dialect scranny; see scrannel
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 scrawny

1824, apparently a dialectal variant of scranny "lean, thin" (1820), which is of uncertain origin but probably from a Scandinavian source, perhaps Old Norse skrælna "to shrivel." Cf. scrannel.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper