Definition of shabby in English:



  • 1In poor condition through long use or lack of care.

    ‘a conscript in a shabby uniform saluted the car’
    • ‘Sadness filled Jason's eyes and he stood there looking at Trevor with his shabby clothes and worn shoes.’
    • ‘He was standing in a room, now wearing a pair of grey pants, a white short-sleeved shirt, and a pair of shabby looking boots.’
    • ‘Maybe it's the lack of people, the lack of cars and the shuttered shabby houses.’
    • ‘It was much simpler in the old days when everyone had to decorate their homes with the look of the moment, whether it was casual ethnic, urban contemporary, country floral or shabby chic.’
    • ‘The hospital wards are shabby and rundown, staff spend as much time filling out forms as dealing with patients, everyone is overworked and over stressed.’
    • ‘Yet their fictional lives are placed in direct contrast with their shabby and poor surroundings.’
    • ‘When confronted with the reality of a shabby and hostile England unlike the England of her dreams, she is utterly horrified.’
    • ‘Warsaw is still full of grey Soviet-style buildings, a few haphazardly-built modern high rises and shabby stores selling cheap goods.’
    • ‘The boy, wearing a formal but slightly shabby overcoat, is standing, while his mother is seated, so his head is slightly higher than hers.’
    • ‘He habitually wore shabby tweeds and a cloth cap of the kind favoured by Cockney barrow boys, also by country squires.’
    • ‘I muttered, eyes glued to those clothes, worn and shabby looking.’
    • ‘It was small, cheap, and shabby, but she had still called it home for the last few years.’
    • ‘We are running short of food, our uniforms are shabby and dull, our shoes are full of holes, and we are also short on ammunition.’
    • ‘They were in shabby condition, having fallen into disrepair.’
    • ‘All of the houses were wooden, and most of the people were dressed in shabby clothes.’
    • ‘And when some of the finer diners cast a disdainful eye upon their shabby, old-fashioned dresses, the two women merely giggled and stared right back at them.’
    • ‘Regardless of the kitchen's shabby condition, this was home to Isis.’
    • ‘The men are dressed in shabby, quilted jackets; they are bareheaded and barefoot.’
    • ‘I stayed with them in their base at Sukhum, a shabby old Soviet hotel with peacocks in the garden.’
    • ‘‘Got a letter here I'd like to be mailed,’ the young man said handing the letter to the short stocky man sitting on a small cot in the shabby tent.’
    run down, down at heel, scruffy, uncared-for, neglected, dilapidated, in disrepair, ramshackle, tumbledown
    scruffy, well worn, worn, old, worn out, threadbare, moth-eaten, mangy, ragged, frayed, tattered, battered, decrepit, having seen better days, falling apart at the seams
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    1. 1.1 Dressed in old or worn clothes.
      ‘a shabby fellow in slippers and an undershirt’
      • ‘I was pretty shabby coming right from the hospital.’
      • ‘Confucius said, ‘Lavishness leads to arrogance, frugality leads to shabbiness, but it is better to be shabby than arrogant’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Apart from his improper and shabby looks, his weird name became the object of her cruel jokes.’
      scruffy, well worn, worn, old, worn out, threadbare, moth-eaten, mangy, ragged, frayed, tattered, battered, decrepit, having seen better days, falling apart at the seams
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  • 2(of behaviour) mean and unfair.

    ‘Snooping, was he? That's a shabby trick’
    • ‘If Huck had felt ‘ornery’ and insignificant in the face of Providence Jim is capable of the same emotion when he recalls his shabby treatment of Elizabeth.’
    • ‘If the rest of the world isn't getting this kind of shabby treatment, why should we?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By all accounts, the denunciations of shabby treatment by various news and current affairs programs come from around the room.’
    • ‘‘Their increasingly shabby treatment of people like me is one of the reasons their results are in a tailspin,’ said my friend.’
    • ‘Sadly, that same sort of shabby treatment has been accorded some of the mystery world's most beloved authors.’
    • ‘It is a shabby and disrespectful epitaph for the tweedy old Bernard Quatermass and his adventures, which date back almost to the advent of television.’
    • ‘Of some sociological interest is the shabby treatment of Anne by the other leads.’
    • ‘Despite his sometimes shabby behavior, he has nobility of spirit compared to the bigger-budget showbiz types who are his rivals.’
    • ‘The door holds fast for just a moment before giving, groaning its displeasure at the shabby treatment it has recently received.’
    • ‘Why does he think her shabby treatment of you is acceptable?’
    contemptible, despicable, dishonourable, disreputable, discreditable, mean, mean-spirited, base, low, dirty, shameful, sorry, ignoble, unfair, unworthy, ungenerous, unkind, ungentlemanly, cheap, shoddy, unpleasant, nasty
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Mid 17th century: from dialect shab ‘scab’ (from a Germanic base meaning ‘itch’) + -y.