Definition of shabby in English:


Syllabification: shab·by
Pronunciation: /ˈSHabē

adjective (shabbier, shabbiest)

1In poor condition through long or hard use or lack of care: a conscript in a shabby uniform saluted the car
More example sentences
  • Yet their fictional lives are placed in direct contrast with their shabby and poor surroundings.
  • Regardless of the kitchen's shabby condition, this was home to Isis.
  • They were in shabby condition, having fallen into disrepair.
run-down, down-at-heel, down-at-the-heel(s), scruffy, dilapidated, ramshackle, tumbledown;
informal crummy, flea-bitten, scuzzy, skeevy, raggedy-ass
1.1Dressed in old or worn clothes.
More example sentences
  • There was an aura of displacement about him, I felt, and it wasn't because of his ragged clothes or the shabby appearance.
  • She's a shabby infant among lawyers clad in immaculate coal-coloured, pleated robes.
  • Confucius said, ‘Lavishness leads to arrogance, frugality leads to shabbiness, but it is better to be shabby than arrogant’.
1.2(Of behavior) mean and shameful: shabby, disrespectful treatment
More example sentences
  • Finally, on the biographical debit side there are the usual miscellaneous acts of thoughtlessness, rudeness and generally shabby behaviour.
  • This was, I find, a piece of calculatedly shabby behaviour by which he hoped he might seize some tactical advantage over Mrs Ellis.
  • ‘Their increasingly shabby treatment of people like me is one of the reasons their results are in a tailspin,’ said my friend.
contemptible, despicable, dishonorable, discreditable, mean, low, dirty, hateful, shameful, sorry, ignoble, unfair, unworthy, unkind, shoddy, nasty
informal rotten, lowdown


mid 17th century: from dialect shab 'scab' (from a Germanic base meaning 'itch') + -y1.



More example sentences
  • He was sensitive enough to recognize that racism was an anti-American outrage, proud enough never to accept it, and financially successful enough to live out his autumn years in the same town that once treated him so shabbily.
  • We had also gone to the Centre with a begging bowl, but were shabbily treated.
  • While the police exhibited a great nervousness about what appeared to be a few shabbily dressed kids making vague assertions, the kids were amazingly at ease, at one point getting up to dance and sing.


More example sentences
  • Great art is a celebration: ‘The perfection and beauty of form rebels against the ugliness and shabbiness of the subject matter.’
  • It has a certain shabbiness now, and that's unfortunate as it is only a very small proportion of the population which makes it that way.
  • Some of its most loyal clients have taken their productions elsewhere, complaining of its general shabbiness.

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