Definition of sketchy in US English:



  • 1Not thorough or detailed.

    ‘the information they had was sketchy’
    • ‘But, in a few days, the Pentagon will issue a release with some sketchy details.’
    • ‘Details are sketchy but the lightening fast operation, lasting all of 5 hours, stunned France and the world.’
    • ‘While the history of this participation remains sketchy and incomplete, individual contributions have not escaped notice.’
    • ‘The story is sketchy and vague about where the funds went.’
    • ‘I have limited, sketchy information on my forebears.’
    • ‘While details are still sketchy, the show looks to be a very extended and extremely sensational commercial.’
    • ‘The apparently deep relationships between Aaron and Hugh or between Hugh and Becky remain superficial, the minor characters frustratingly sketchy.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the information available on this issue has been extremely vague and sketchy.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Information regarding the death is, at present, sketchy, with the police report being frustratingly vague.’
    • ‘She continued with a vague, sketchy synopsis of what she planned to be doing, and how long she planned to stay.’
    • ‘All of our actions are dictated by intelligence reports and sometimes it can be sketchy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Brando's part is too slight, his character too sketchy, to allow him to show any acting chops at all.’
    • ‘Now I was faced with my dad's inadequate PC, complete with sketchy Internet connection and Microsoft Word.’
    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
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  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The train has never seemed as sketchy as the one I'm on from Athens to Patras.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A slightly sketchy town on the edge of the lake, it had none of Copacabana or Isla del Sol's charm.’
    • ‘The whole organization seems a bit sketchy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In retrospect, the recruitment email sounded pretty sketchy.’
    • ‘If you think that Facebook is boring you need to make sketchier friends.’
    • ‘Those guys were sketchy, I always thought they were.’
    • ‘I spotted this mural on the side of a big Goodwill facility in a sketchy part of east Long Beach.’
    • ‘Ossington Avenue was a crumbling street of dodgy garages and boarded-up business, sketchy strip clubs and bullet-ridden karaoke joints.’
    • ‘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.’