• synonyms


adjective, sketch·i·er, sketch·i·est.
  1. like a sketch; giving only outlines or essentials.
  2. imperfect, incomplete, slight, or superficial: a sketchy meal.
  3. Informal.
    1. unreliable or unsafe: That street looks pretty sketchy.
    2. disreputable or shady: I'd stay away from him; he's got a sketchy past.
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Origin of sketchy

First recorded in 1795–1805; sketch + -y1
Related formssketch·i·ly, adverbsketch·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sketchiest

Historical Examples

  • I won't say it is affection, because our relations are usually of the sketchiest description.

    Captain Macedoine's Daughter

    William McFee

  • A life-history of human culture is a large topic, not to be attempted here even in the sketchiest outline.

  • He spoke nothing but the truth, for he had but the sketchiest acquaintance with the composition of any kind of machinery.

British Dictionary definitions for sketchiest


adjective sketchier or sketchiest
  1. characteristic of a sketch; existing only in outline
  2. superficial or slight
  3. informal uncertain or unreliable
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Derived Formssketchily, adverbsketchiness, noun
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 sketchiest



1805, "having the form or character of a sketch," from sketch (n.) + -y (1). Colloquial sense of "unsubstantial, imperfect, flimsy" is from 1878, perhaps via the notion of "unfinished." Related: Sketchily; sketchiness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper