shabby

shabby
shabby 1 Shabby, dilapidated, dingy, faded, seedy, threadbare refer to the appearance of persons and of things and mean showing signs of wear and tear.
Shabby applies to persons and places and suggests a lack of freshness or newness in those items that contribute to appearance; sometimes the term applies directly to the things, especially clothes, which so contribute. Poverty is often suggested as the cause of this run-down condition but various other causes (as neglect or indifference) may also be suggested
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old Bart, shabby and inconspicuous, dunking pound cake with his dirty fingers—W. S. Burroughs

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villages . . . with their shabby, unpainted shacks, dropping with decay— Brooks

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everything had been done to make the accused look as shabby as possible. They were outfitted in nondescript clothes— Shirer

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the old house ... is too elegant for poor people, and too large; too shabby, in too shabby a neighborhood, for the rich— Tate

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Dilapidated (compare dilapidate under RUIN) implies a worse appearance than shabby, usually suggesting a broken-down or tumbledown condition resulting from neglectful lack of repairs or from careless abuse
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a dilapidated fence with its gate hanging from one hinge

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sat down in a dilapidated easy chair minus a cushion— Purdy

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an old toy is so much better .... The very fact that it was worn and dilapidated caused it to create a feeling of warmth— Henry Miller

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Dingy applies to what is no longer fresh or new in appearance and shows the effects of gradual soiling that dulls the colors or dims the brightness
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out of his dingy retreat, dirty and uncomfortable, he would appear resplendent— Osbert Sitwell

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shabby in attire, dingy of linen— Thackeray

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counting another man's money ... in a dingy office— Shaw

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he flashed from dingy obscurity into splendor— H. G. Wells

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Faded also implies lack of freshness but it connotes the loss of vigor or brightness that shows that a person or thing has passed its prime and is revealing signs of drooping and withering
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her slightly stale and faded gush about Chopin and her memories of Paris in the spring— Edmund Wilson

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she lives with her mother, a faded tired woman who played Lady Capulet— Wilde

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her clothes were always the same and it is hard to remember what she wore. She seemed to sink into the faded anonymity of the old street— Tate

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so many of the old friends are dead, and those who live are older and changed, and everything seems a bit faded and drab— H. L. Matthews

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Seedy does not go so far as shabby in implying deterioration and lack of freshness but it does suggest some loss of those signs that marked a person or thing as strong or at the peak of value and usefulness
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sordid squabbling with his landlady about the rent he owes on a seedy room— McCarten

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an English setter, a bitch, and rather seedy now and smelly— Henry Miller

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a table on which was a clutter of seedy Western souvenirs—a rusted, beat-up placer pan . . . and the shellacked tail of a beaver— Stafford

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Seedy is also used in reference to a person who feels himself not really sick but not up to the mark
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we were all feeling seedy, and we were getting nervous about it— Jerome

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Threadbare (see also TRITE) in its basic use implies such wear of fabric that all nap is worn away and the threads are visible
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the curves of hips and breasts already discernible under the too short and often threadbare clothes— Metalious

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but often this basic notion is lost and the emphasis is on the shabby state typical of or the fact of extreme grinding poverty
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the only oppor-tunity ... to find escape from the grim, drab, threadbare unpicturesque poverty of her inharmonious home— Dorothy Canfield

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England, which has a threadbare Treasury— Sulzberger

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finally got threadbare enough and hungry enough to overlook my scruples— O'Leary

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Analogous words: worn (see HAGGARD): dowdy, frowzy, *slatternly: shopworn, *trite: decrepit (see WEAK)
Contrasted words: trim, trig, spick-and-span, *neat, tidy: *new, fresh, new-fashioned
2 *contemptible, despicable, pitiable, sorry, scurvy, cheap, beggarly
Analogous words: *mean, sordid, ignoble: *base, low, vile

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • Shabby — Shab by, a. [Compar. {Shabbier}; superl. {Shabbiest}.] [See {Shab}, n., {Scabby}, and {Scab}.] 1. Torn or worn to rage; poor; mean; ragged. [1913 Webster] Wearing shabby coats and dirty shirts. Macaulay. [1913 Webster] 2. Clothed with ragged,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • shabby — [shab′ē] adj. shabbier, shabbiest [< dial. shab, scab, scoundrel < OE sceabb, scab, scale: see SCAB] 1. run down; dilapidated; deteriorated [shabby surroundings] 2. a) showing much wear; ragged; threadbare: said of clothing b) wearing such… …   English World dictionary

  • shabby — (adj.) 1660s, from shab scab (now only dialectal, in reference to a disease of sheep), from O.E. sceabb (see SCAB (Cf. scab)), with sound change as described in SH (Cf. sh ). Cf. M.Du. schabbich, Ger. schäbig shabby. Shabby genteel run down but… …   Etymology dictionary

  • shabby — [adj1] broken down; in poor shape bare, bedraggled, crummy, decayed, decaying, decrepit, degenerated, desolate, deteriorated, deteriorating, dilapidated, dingy, disfigured, disreputable, dog eared*, faded, frayed, gone to seed*, mangy, meager,… …   New thesaurus

  • shabby — ► ADJECTIVE (shabbier, shabbiest) 1) worn out or dilapidated. 2) dressed in old or worn clothes. 3) mean and unfair: a shabby trick. DERIVATIVES shabbily adverb shabbiness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • shabby — index decadent, dilapidated, inferior (lower in quality), penurious, poor (inferior in quality), slipshod Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton …   Law dictionary

  • shabby — UK [ˈʃæbɪ] / US adjective Word forms shabby : adjective shabby comparative shabbier superlative shabbiest 1) a) old and in bad condition shabby clothes/furniture/buildings b) dressed in clothes that are old or in bad condition The children were… …   English dictionary

  • shabby — [[t]ʃæ̱bi[/t]] shabbier, shabbiest 1) ADJ GRADED Shabby things or places look old and in bad condition. His clothes were old and shabby... He walked past her into a tiny, shabby room. ...one of the shabbiest and poorest areas of London. Syn:… …   English dictionary

  • shabby — shab|by [ ʃæbi ] adjective 1. ) old and in bad condition: shabby clothes/furniture/buildings a ) dressed in clothes that are old or in bad condition: The children were all so shabby and hungry. feel shabby: Linda felt shabby standing next to… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • shabby — adjective (shabbier; est) Etymology: obsolete English shab a low fellow Date: 1669 1. clothed with worn or seedy garments < a shabby hobo > 2. a. threadbare and faded from wear < a shabby sofa > b. ill kept …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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