[slee-zee, sley-zee]

adjective, slea·zi·er, slea·zi·est.

contemptibly low, mean, or disreputable: sleazy politics.
squalid; sordid; filthy; dilapidated: a sleazy hotel.
thin or poor in texture, as a fabric; cheap; flimsy: a sleazy dress; a sleazy excuse.

Origin of sleazy

1635–45; (def 3) of obscure origin (probably unrelated to Silesia other than by folk etymology); sense of defs 1, 2 (first attested 1941) perhaps represent a distinct word
Related formsslea·zi·ly, adverbslea·zi·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sleazy

Contemporary Examples of sleazy

Historical Examples of sleazy

  • If too large, on the other hand, the work is apt to be sleazy.

  • This pretense, this sleazy imitation of your old room is wrong.

    Moment of Truth

    Basil Eugene Wells

  • Joe watched his narrow, bent shoulders under the sleazy shirt.


    George Looms

  • “Oh yes, dating younger people is so sleazy,” Lester said with a chuckle.


    Cory Doctorow

  • He takes a kind of look-over at Hod, no collar nor nothing, and that sleazy coat of his'n.

    The Broken Gate

    Emerson Hough

British Dictionary definitions for sleazy


adjective -zier or -ziest

sordid; disreputablea sleazy nightclub
thin or flimsy, as cloth
Derived Formssleazily, adverbsleaziness, noun

Word Origin for sleazy

C17: origin uncertain
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 sleazy

1640s, "downy, fuzzy," later "flimsy, unsubstantial" (1660s), of unknown origin; one theory is that it is a corruption of Silesia, the German region, where thin linen or cotton fabric was made for export. Silesia in reference to cloth is attested in English from 1670s; and sleazy as an abbreviated form is attested from 1670), but OED is against this. Sense of "sordid" is from 1941. Related: Sleazily; sleaziness.

A day is a more magnificent cloth than any muslin, the mechanism that makes it is infinitely cunninger, and you shall not conceal the sleazy, fraudulent, rotten hours you have slipped into the piece, nor fear that any honest thread, or straighter steel, or more inflexible shaft, will not testify in the web. [Emerson, "The Conduct of Life," 1860]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper