Definition of sketchy in US English:



  • 1Not thorough or detailed.

    ‘the information they had was sketchy’
    • ‘Brando's part is too slight, his character too sketchy, to allow him to show any acting chops at all.’
    • ‘She continued with a vague, sketchy synopsis of what she planned to be doing, and how long she planned to stay.’
    • ‘The details are sketchy at the moment but i'm certain there is money to be made…’
    • ‘The person who has sat next to me every day for the last 18 months is just a jumble of sketchy features and vague associations.’
    • ‘She was one of five children, and even in this sketchy history of her fragmented life, with its breakdowns, delusions and stays in hospital, we can see echoes of the privilege to which she was born.’
    • ‘Rather than keenly tuning into the in-depth coverage of Newsnight or Channel 4 News, the only reports I'm hearing are the brief and sketchy bulletins on Xfm in the morning, as I get ready for work.’
    • ‘While the history of this participation remains sketchy and incomplete, individual contributions have not escaped notice.’
    • ‘Information regarding the death is, at present, sketchy, with the police report being frustratingly vague.’
    • ‘The apparently deep relationships between Aaron and Hugh or between Hugh and Becky remain superficial, the minor characters frustratingly sketchy.’
    • ‘The details are sketchy at this stage, but I understand that both Desmond and Murray are to be interviewed about the plan on this evening's Scotsport Plus.’
    • ‘While details are still sketchy, the show looks to be a very extended and extremely sensational commercial.’
    • ‘Details are sketchy but the lightening fast operation, lasting all of 5 hours, stunned France and the world.’
    • ‘But, in a few days, the Pentagon will issue a release with some sketchy details.’
    • ‘The story is sketchy and vague about where the funds went.’
    • ‘Now I was faced with my dad's inadequate PC, complete with sketchy Internet connection and Microsoft Word.’
    • ‘I have limited, sketchy information on my forebears.’
    • ‘While programming details are sketchy, it is understood that the new channel would offer a diet of sitcoms, drama and soaps and will have no news or current affairs content.’
    • ‘All of our actions are dictated by intelligence reports and sometimes it can be sketchy.’
    • ‘I think there are a lot of flaws in this study calculating - it's so hard to calculate profits in Hollywood because the numbers are always so sketchy and there's a lot of fuzzy accounting.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the information available on this issue has been extremely vague and sketchy.’
    incomplete, inadequate, limited, patchy, scrappy, bitty, fragmentary, rudimentary
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    1. 1.1 (of a picture) resembling a sketch; consisting of outline without much detail.
      • ‘Tara looked at her sketchy outline repeatedly until the whole page became a huge blur to her.’
      • ‘The second page was a sketchy outline of a woman, but you couldn't really see anything.’
      lacking in detail, incomplete, outline, inadequate, insufficient, fragmentary, patchy, bitty, scrappy, broad-brush, superficial, perfunctory
      View synonyms
  • 2North American informal Dishonest or disreputable.

    ‘once the story does come out, the fact that you tried to hide it will seem sketchy’
    ‘a sketchy neighborhood’
    • ‘A slightly sketchy town on the edge of the lake, it had none of Copacabana or Isla del Sol's charm.’
    • ‘In retrospect, the recruitment email sounded pretty sketchy.’
    • ‘I spotted this mural on the side of a big Goodwill facility in a sketchy part of east Long Beach.’
    • ‘My roommate went to the basement to do her laundry late one night and came back with news that there was a sketchy character in the basement.’
    • ‘If you're in a club, chances are there's going to be a sketchy guy in a track suit trying to get you to buy coke.’
    • ‘Those guys were sketchy, I always thought they were.’
    • ‘The whole organization seems a bit sketchy.’
    • ‘Although I wasn't in the habit of talking to strangers, he didn't seem sketchy, so I walked over to the car and bent down to get to his eye level.’
    • ‘If you think that Facebook is boring you need to make sketchier friends.’
    • ‘The train has never seemed as sketchy as the one I'm on from Athens to Patras.’
    • ‘He talks about contexts where you wouldn't want to use a tablet, such as for snapping a picture or for checking directions in a slightly sketchy neighbourhood.’
    • ‘This seriously good novel tells the story of M, a man with a sketchy past and even sketchier morals.’
    • ‘We did see a sketchy guy in the corner riffling through used MetroCards, which made me think twice about whipping out a $300 smartphone.’
    • ‘I had a client the other day whose PC was practically dead because they clicked on one of those pop up ads while on some sketchy website.’
    • ‘Ossington Avenue was a crumbling street of dodgy garages and boarded-up business, sketchy strip clubs and bullet-ridden karaoke joints.’
    • ‘He sounds more like a sketchy drunk guy yelling in your ear at a show, asking if you know where to buy drugs, than like the frontman of the band onstage.’
    • ‘There were far fewer sketchy characters on the streets and it was a calmer and more conservative city.’
    • ‘LAPD described both men as having sketchy pasts.’
    • ‘The search generally yields the same results: live/work studio space is expensive, unless you're willing to look in sketchy neighborhoods.’
    • ‘Nationals kicks off with Mercedes contracting food poisoning from a sketchy taco joint.’