Definition of flimsy in US English:


adjectiveflimsier, flimsiest

  • 1Comparatively light and insubstantial; easily damaged.

    ‘voyagers who crossed the sea in flimsy boats’
    • ‘From the opposite end, through a flimsy barrier of water-damaged ceiling tile, he could hear the catch in his grandmother's chest as she breathed.’
    • ‘Suddenly they all seem desperately flimsy for the job.’
    • ‘The families had erected flimsy tents by stitching rags together.’
    • ‘The door that covers the DVD drive area seems solid, but the mounting gear - particularly the hinge - is somewhat flimsy and jams quite easily.’
    • ‘Boasting four fire buttons, plus a fairly flimsy throttle control, this too has plenty of features.’
    • ‘They could have easily slipped past the flimsy barricade of starguards but the monsters merely threw themselves at them, incinerating and ripping in a frenzy.’
    • ‘Like a huge pressure pushing against my skin, I could feel it trying to claw its way out of me, trying to push through the flimsy barrier of flesh my body provided.’
    • ‘The nail file on these clippers is about two inches long - if that - and incredibly flimsy.’
    • ‘I pounded through the door, and it began to shake; it was rather flimsy.’
    • ‘Maybe that's why they're there, to add structural strength because of the somewhat flimsy nature of aluminium.’
    • ‘The majority are trying to reach the Canary Islands in flimsy boats.’
    • ‘A warped rationale twisted and struggled madly to keep back the torrent rising against the flimsy barrier of his lie.’
    • ‘They are absolute zealots at trying to stop us from making backups of the media we purchase on flimsy, unprotected, easily damaged disks but have never once offered a remedy for the reason we need to make backups.’
    • ‘Dawn woke, shivering on the cold, hard ground in the flimsy tent that the Shadows had erected.’
    • ‘Furthermore, the wild gales in summer could sometimes easily blow down the flimsy sheds.’
    • ‘She was also loyal, and loveable, and very easy to talk to - once one got past the flimsy barriers she had up.’
    • ‘The handbrake looks very out of place and somewhat flimsy compared to the rest of the interior.’
    • ‘He believes the new-style permits issued by the council are too flimsy and not sticky enough.’
    • ‘And while the reporter and photographer were at the site, its lack of security was shown when a group of teenage boys easily slipped through the flimsy plastic fence to switch on a water pipe.’
    • ‘Nothing could stop him, not even this flimsy barrier.’
    insubstantial, slight, light, fragile, breakable, frail, shaky, unstable, wobbly, tottery, rickety, ramshackle, makeshift
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    1. 1.1 (of clothing) light and thin.
      ‘I wore flimsy clothes and needed warming’
      • ‘She looks pretty in a flimsy nightgown of a dress.’
      • ‘Each song received great cheers - and a couple of pairs of flimsy underwear were thrown onstage before the night ended.’
      • ‘As Mona she wears glittering, flimsy garments with sheer embroidered scarves, hennaed hair, nail varnish and lipstick.’
      • ‘I unzipped the covering and inwardly groaned at the sight of the flimsy white dress.’
      • ‘I was half asleep, standing out in the freezing cold with nothing but a flimsy coat to defend my racking bones from the frigid cold.’
      • ‘Dr Wright, who is also a member of the UK Skin Cancer Working Party, said that a wearer who tended to burn easily could suffer sunburn after only three hours if wearing the flimsy shirt without extra suncream.’
      • ‘Whatever you do, there's no denying that dresses are great to take on holiday - a light, flimsy slip can be easily scrunched into the corner of your case, making it a sloppy packer's dream.’
      • ‘Men wearing short-sleeved shirts and girls in flimsy dresses and bare legs happily parade about in practically sub-zero temperatures.’
      • ‘He had on a blue V-neck sweater over a loose T-shirt, a short, rather flimsy jacket, jeans, sneakers, and no hat.’
      • ‘She is inside, her flimsy clothing soaked through.’
      • ‘Fayette was dressed in an even flimsier dress than usual that left nothing to the imagination.’
      • ‘Now that she was closer, Vigilante could see her better, and noticed that she wore a flimsy nightgown.’
      • ‘Plus there was only a flimsy shower curtain between the two of us.’
      • ‘Here Kristine sat in a flimsy dress, proudly carrying Cassie on her arm.’
      • ‘He had barely braced himself with some of his wife's flimsy dresses and a vacuum cleaner before the entire foundation shook with the impact of the rocket against it.’
      • ‘The longer, flimsy skirt hanging out of a coat is a rather edgy trend right now.’
      • ‘He literally trembled with excitement as he slid his right foot into the flimsy garment and pulled it up to his thigh.’
      • ‘Silvia (who makes an omelette to die for and has a nice line in flimsy clothing) works on the shop floor at the local underwear factory.’
      • ‘There was a woman too, dressed in a flimsy robe, curled up in a chair just to the side of the big man.’
      • ‘She is wearing a light, flimsy dress, very fey, and her face has a faraway expression.’
      thin, light, lightweight, fine, ultra-fine, diaphanous, sheer, delicate, insubstantial, floaty, filmy, silken, chiffony, gossamer, gossamer-thin, gossamer-like, gossamery, gauzy, gauzelike, cobwebby, feathery
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    2. 1.2 (of a pretext or account) weak and unconvincing.
      ‘a pretty flimsy excuse’
      • ‘What is particularly fascinating, however, is that the whole story is built on such a very flimsy foundation.’
      • ‘The evidence was so flimsy that the case should never have gone to trial.’
      • ‘"What the police did was to detain on the flimsiest of pretexts."’
      • ‘The Herald denounced the verdict, saying it was the " flimsiest of evidence".’
      • ‘Any evidence by such an expert would have been based on the flimsiest foundation.’
      • ‘No, we can't let them squeak by with a flimsy excuse like that.’
      • ‘A handful had remained loyal to their oath as doctors or to their basic sense of decency and had refused to carry out instructions, citing valid excuses or flimsy pretexts.’
      • ‘Significant proportions of us die every year on the flimsiest of pretexts.’
      • ‘A couple of psychologists have claimed on the basis of very flimsy evidence that Australians are particularly " authoritarian".’
      • ‘Excuses seem flimsy, and even the best are still just excuses.’
      • ‘What more evidence is required when the imagination conjures up the flimsiest of evidence?’
      • ‘But the case against him was so flimsy that he was released without charge six days later.’
      • ‘Once again the exegetical basis is too flimsy to support the revisionist view.’
      • ‘At school, I cheated at the Rubik's Cube twice: once by removing the tiles under the flimsy pretext of ‘seeing how the joints worked’ and again, by reading the book.’
      • ‘I'll also not forget the scene in Othello when Iago talks The Moor into believing something which flimsy evidence would easily prove to be false.’
      • ‘Reality seemed flimsy; certainties were abandoned, and threats were constant.’
      • ‘Obviously this rather flimsy argument by elimination carries very little weight by itself.’
      • ‘We chose not to publish at the time as independent confirmatory evidence was too flimsy.’
      • ‘Their only real purpose is to provide a flimsy excuse to make a recommendation.’
      • ‘But my flimsy excuses and confusing metaphors weren't enough to keep myself convinced.’
      weak, feeble, poor, inadequate, insufficient, thin, unsubstantial, unconvincing, implausible, unsatisfactory, paltry, trifling, trivial, shallow
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nounPlural flimsies

  • 1A document, especially a copy, made on very thin paper.

    ‘credit-card flimsies’
    • ‘Unfortunately, my classics skills suffered so much from my extracurricular activities in the pub that my product deteriorated to the point that I could not give my flimsies away.’
    • ‘Regardless of where the control finally ends up, however, the historic days of operators copying flimsies, lining switches, and setting signals locally, have ended.’
    1. 1.1 Very thin paper.
      ‘sheets of yellow flimsy’


Early 18th century: probably from flimflam.