frow·​sy ˈfrau̇-zē How to pronounce frowsy (audio)
variants or frowzy
frowsier or frowzier; frowziest
: musty, stale
a frowsy smell of stale beer and stale smokeW. S. Maugham
: having a slovenly or uncared-for appearance
a couple of frowsy stuffed chairsR. M. Williams

Did you know?

The exact origins of frowsy are perhaps lost in an old, frowsy book somewhere, but some etymologists have speculated that frowsy (also spelled frowzy) shares a common ancestor with the younger, chiefly British, word frowsty, a synonym of frowsy in both its senses. That ancestor could be the Old French word frouste, meaning "ruinous" or "decayed," or the now-obsolete English word frough or frow, meaning "brittle" or "fragile." An early print example of frowsy can be found in Thomas Otway's 1681 comedy The Souldier's Fortune, wherein the character Beau refers to another character as "a frouzy Fellmonger."

Examples of frowsy in a Sentence

sported a threadbare wardrobe and frowsy hair the abandoned house was dank and frowsy
Recent Examples on the Web Before the current renovation of the franchised hotels, the rooms looked as if they were stuck in a fussy, frowsy 1980s floral rut., 3 Oct. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'frowsy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1681, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of frowsy was in 1681


Dictionary Entries Near frowsy

Cite this Entry

“Frowsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants or frowzy
frowsier or frowzier; frowsiest
: having an untidy appearance
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