Definition of scrawny in US English:



  • 1(of a person or animal) unattractively thin and bony.

    ‘he had a scrawny physique and a protuberant Adam's apple’
    ‘she was small and scrawny and the sinews in her neck stood out’
    • ‘Red screamed, " How can you be so strong when you're so scrawny?’
    • ‘I always remember him as a rather scrawny kid who used to ref our senior games when the official referee didn't turn up.’
    • ‘He left the office and road hard for a while before arriving at a ranch, where he was greeted by a tall and scrawny man with a long, thin mustache.’
    • ‘Giggling toddlers play among scrawny chickens and bleating goats.’
    • ‘She was scrawny, dangerously thin some said, and stiff, as though her bones ached.’
    • ‘The stillness of the scene was suddenly disrupted when a scrawny dog ran into view.’
    • ‘I'm naturally a pretty scrawny guy, so we cut out cardio entirely and just focused on bulking up.’
    • ‘She was scrawny and flea-ridden, but her manners were impeccable as she gently placed her paw on my arm, as if to lay claim to me.’
    • ‘Paws thudded on the ground nearby, and a small scrawny wolf darted out of the brush, headed in an erratic fashion to the path.’
    • ‘A scrawny dog lay in the doorway of a hut, yawning widely.’
    • ‘Staring down at the scrawny man, Jonah wondered what he had ever been afraid of.’
    • ‘You're established and then, all of a sudden, some young scrawny kid comes out of the youth team and takes your place in the side.’
    • ‘Inside the gas station, Tom talks to George, who is a thin, blond-haired, scrawny fellow.’
    • ‘After years of wrestling scrawny teenagers, his dedication is actually put to the test when he will have to pick on someone his own size.’
    • ‘I honestly thought Cam ‘in person’ would be your usual scrawny writer/artist type.’
    • ‘He wrenched him around and grasped his scrawny neck in a dangerously tight headlock.’
    • ‘The way his mother tells it, Allen was a scrawny kid who the high school football players used to carry to class on their shoulders.’
    • ‘They were scrawny little things and their eyes had that slightly sunken in look from malnutrition.’
    • ‘Many people still live in mud huts, grow all their own food, and rely on the one scrawny cow in the back yard for subsistence.’
    • ‘He looked scrawny in his baggy clothes, but I knew that he was very strong.’
    skinny, thin, thin as a rake, skin-and-bones, gaunt, bony, size-zero, angular, gawky, scraggy, rangy, raw-boned, skeletal, emaciated, pinched
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    1. 1.1 (of vegetation) meager or stunted.
      ‘straggly trees and occasional tufts of scrawny grass’
      • ‘Unable to find it she sank down and sat on the ground with her back against two scrawny trees.’
      • ‘They lie on pavements, sheltering from the sun under scrawny trees.’


Mid 19th century: variant of dialect scranny; compare with archaic scrannel ‘weak, feeble’ (referring to sound).