Definition of rickety in US 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And despite the best efforts of the socialist government, large-scale commercialisation overshadows the country's rickety network of tour operators.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But you did actually go back and ascend this rather rickety structure and made some interesting discoveries.’
    • ‘She then directed them to the fourth floor, giving them the choice of the stairs or a rickety lift.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Meanwhile Tent City, the rickety collection of 50 squatter homes on the waterfront, was cleared away, and residents were offered temporary housing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Everyone knew that the stairs were rickety, that everything was old and rotting!’
    • ‘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.’
    shaky, unsteady, unsound, unsafe, tottering, crumbling, decaying, disintegrating, tumbledown, broken-down, dilapidated, ramshackle, derelict, ruinous, falling to pieces, decrepit
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  • 2(of a person) suffering from rickets.


Late 17th century: from rickets + -y.