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.

Origin of sketchy

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

Examples from the Web for sketchiness

Historical Examples of sketchiness

  • A glass jar of pickle and one of olives added to the sketchiness of the table.

  • Her search is less thorough than the maid's but there is a touch of fury in it, that quite makes up for its sketchiness.

    This Side of Paradise

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

British Dictionary definitions for sketchiness


adjective sketchier or sketchiest
  1. characteristic of a sketch; existing only in outline
  2. superficial or slight
  3. informal uncertain or unreliable
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 sketchiness



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper