[ skech-ee ]
/ ˈskɛtʃ i /

adjective, sketch·i·er, sketch·i·est.

like a sketch; giving only outlines or essentials.
imperfect, incomplete, slight, or superficial: a sketchy meal.
  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.

Nearby words

  1. sketch book, the,
  2. sketch map,
  3. sketchable,
  4. sketchbook,
  5. sketchpad,
  6. skete,
  7. skeuomorph,
  8. skew,
  9. skew arch,
  10. skew field

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for sketchiness

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

British Dictionary definitions for sketchiness


/ (ˈskɛtʃɪ) /

adjective sketchier or sketchiest

characteristic of a sketch; existing only in outline
superficial or slight
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