- trying to maintain dignity and self-respect despite shabbiness.
Origin of shabby-genteel
First recorded in 1745–55
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for shabby-genteel
I do not believe the poor put into them, but the reduced rich, the shabby-genteel.Winterslow
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
Such objects, with few exceptions, are shabby-genteel people.Sketches by Boz
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
- preserving or aspiring to the forms and manners of gentility despite appearing shabby