Origin of shabby-genteel

First recorded in 1745–55
Related formsshab·by-gen·til·i·ty [shab-ee-jen-til-i-tee] /ˈʃæb i dʒɛnˈtɪl ɪ ti/, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shabby-genteel

Historical Examples of shabby-genteel

  • I do not believe the poor put into them, but the reduced rich, the shabby-genteel.


    William Hazlitt

  • At eleven o'clock he was clothed as a beggar—at twelve he was shabby-genteel.

  • Look again—here is a shabby-genteel man who lives by his wits.

    London's Underworld

    Thomas Holmes

  • Such objects, with few exceptions, are shabby-genteel people.

    Sketches by Boz

    Charles Dickens

  • Here the last of the Glenalvans—once a proud and wealthy race—dwelt in respectable, shabby-genteel poverty.

    Little Golden's Daughter

    Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller

British Dictionary definitions for shabby-genteel


  1. preserving or aspiring to the forms and manners of gentility despite appearing shabby
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