Definition of scruffy in US English:



  • 1Shabby and untidy or dirty.

    ‘a teenager in scruffy jeans and a baggy T-shirt’
    • ‘He was looking down, he was scruffy, he had dirty jeans and he was not on this planet.’
    • ‘Having arrived at 9am from Aberdeen, the pair were clad more as mad hatters tea party than scruffy gig chic.’
    • ‘And then he glanced at his own almost crumpled gray shirt and the plain scruffy jeans.’
    • ‘My winter coat is too warm for this time of year and my jeans jacket is too scruffy for work.’
    • ‘If the jeans were baggy and scruffy, the whole outfit would be unbalanced.’
    • ‘It's all about contrasts and contradictions - the smart and the scruffy, the rough and the smooth.’
    • ‘Born in 1912, Turing was a shy, scruffy young man, but a gifted mathematician and scientist.’
    • ‘Zach was decked out in the same scruffy jeans he'd been wearing in the video.’
    • ‘Certain parts of Bolton are dirty and scruffy, caused by a minority of dirty people and neglect.’
    • ‘One had blond hair and was scruffy, with a blue top and jeans, while the other wore a dark blue top.’
    • ‘There was just one other sad, unfulfilled customer at the bar, trying to catch the eye of the scruffy teen working the pumps.’
    • ‘His scruffy appearance made him look dirty next to the clean bright sterile walls of the hospital.’
    • ‘I felt ashamed to let anyone come to the flat because it was filthy, smelly and scruffy.’
    • ‘In seconds, it seemed, she was back in her scruffy jeans and rainbow fingerless gloves, ready to go.’
    • ‘I always promised to do better but I was an incurably scruffy boy who never did do well on the pulled-up socks side of life.’
    • ‘I wore it to some rather posh restaurants and not once did I feel scruffy or unkempt.’
    • ‘He pulls his curly locks back into a bushy ponytail and wears a somewhat scruffy goatee.’
    • ‘The whole head is fluffed up and gently back-combed, so that it looks scruffy and unkempt.’
    • ‘Bit scruffy and mangy himself, but blessed with a true heart of gold.’
    • ‘He's dressed in scruffy jeans and a faded biker jacket, talking in quiet, understated tones.’
    shabby, worn, down at heel, shoddy, ragged, tattered, mangy, sorry, run down, disreputable
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  • 2(of a man's face) having short, bristly hairs as a result of not having been shaved for a while.

    ‘his employer has gotten used to seeing his face becoming scruffier each spring’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘covered with scurf’): from scruff ‘scurf’, variant of scurf, + -y. The sense ‘shabby’ dates from the late 19th century.