Definition of rickety in English:



  • 1(of a structure or piece of equipment) poorly made and likely to collapse.

    ‘we went carefully up the rickety stairs’
    figurative ‘a rickety banking system’
    • ‘But you did actually go back and ascend this rather rickety structure and made some interesting discoveries.’
    • ‘Countless times both of our pagers would go off and we'd tear down the rickety apartment stairs and he'd drive us both to the station.’
    • ‘While we were tooling around up at the top of the ancient rickety ski lifts, I just had to check out the winching mechanism for tensioning the lift cables.’
    • ‘Back in Calgary the next day, we scramble across town on the rickety C-train to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology where logistics for the protest are being planned.’
    • ‘Climbing the rickety wooden stairs we were welcomed into the company of the pipe player, impressive in his traditional costume, his cheeks puffed from the playing of his bagpipes.’
    • ‘He carries three twelve-pack cartons of beer across the yard to the house, climbs the front stairs and walks gingerly across the rickety veranda.’
    • ‘And while there is some room for growth in this figure, we can guess that the system is a bit rickety and could be easily overwhelmed if the effort was concentrated.’
    • ‘Likewise, when they compare the high-speed TGV to the rickety transport system we have here, the value of a strong, responsible state becomes apparent.’
    • ‘She then directed them to the fourth floor, giving them the choice of the stairs or a rickety lift.’
    • ‘Meanwhile Tent City, the rickety collection of 50 squatter homes on the waterfront, was cleared away, and residents were offered temporary housing.’
    • ‘And there's a further subtext to Tomb Raider - that rickety Third World technology is no match for the might of imperialist implements of destruction.’
    • ‘After decades of rickety governments cobbled together from small parties, the 1997 constitution encourages larger and more stable groupings.’
    • ‘We head up a rickety flight of stairs, pass through a wooden door, and suddenly my jaw drops open.’
    • ‘Everyone knew that the stairs were rickety, that everything was old and rotting!’
    • ‘We knew that finishing the house would mean living through winter in a rickety, poorly insulated travel trailer.’
    • ‘That would put an enormous stress on the rickety structure of Australia's political parties.’
    • ‘Rather, poorly lit stairways, rickety bed frames, dirty sex aids and repetitive movement injuries are among the chief dangers brothel workers face in New South Wales.’
    • ‘Alternatively, you can always stay at our pension, Na Louzi, which is truly Bohemian, a woody little place with rickety stairs and a dozen styles of ancient door lock and handle.’
    • ‘You take a rickety bus bursting with rural folk at Meerut, which, after a precarious drive down a virtually unpaved road dumps you at an unusual sounding place called Chhota Mawana More.’
    • ‘And despite the best efforts of the socialist government, large-scale commercialisation overshadows the country's rickety network of tour operators.’
    shaky, unsteady, unsound, unsafe, tottering, crumbling, decaying, disintegrating, tumbledown, broken-down, dilapidated, ramshackle, derelict, ruinous, falling to pieces, decrepit
    shambly, geriatric
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  • 2(of a person) suffering from rickets.


Late 17th century: from rickets + -y.