grub·​by | \ˈgrə-bē \
grubbier; grubbiest

Definition of grubby 

1 : infested with fly maggots

2a : dirty, grimy grubby hands

b : slovenly, sloppy

3 : worthy of contempt : base grubby political motives

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Other Words from grubby

grubbily \ˈgrə-​bə-​lē \ adverb
grubbiness \ˈgrə-​bē-​nəs \ noun

Examples of grubby in a Sentence

He lives in a grubby little apartment. clean off those grubby hands before you touch anything

Recent Examples on the Web

That literally any change to the political system of a fast-changing country will be seen as a grubby scheme for partisan advantage creates a lock-in problem that imperils our future. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The rigging of American politics," 16 Oct. 2018 Who knows what kinds of diseases 6-year-olds carry on their grubby little fingers? New York Times, "License to Interfere," 23 May 2018 So pretty good system populated by grubby creeps that are called human beings that steal. Fox News, "Grenell: NKorea feels pressure of Trump's tough diplomacy," 26 May 2018 Washing your grubby mitts is one of the all-time best ways to cut your chances of getting sick and spreading harmful germs to others. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Hot-air dryers suck in nasty bathroom bacteria and shoot them at your hands," 6 Apr. 2018 Outside, a half-dozen grubby children crowded around a cooking fire, some of them naked from the waist down. Ty Mccormick, Washington Post, "Refugee athletes captivated the world at the Olympics. But many returned to a life of despair.," 2 Feb. 2018 Inside her spartan shelter, grubby mattresses are laid on the bare earth. Jack Losh, Washington Post, "Rebels in the Central African Republic are filling the void of an absent government," 26 Mar. 2018 Colored lights give the tunnel a kaleidoscopic feel despite the dank, grubby ambience. John Lee,, "Underground London well beyond the Tube holds secrets and delights," 25 Mar. 2018 The refugees come to terms with their grubby existence. Hugh Hunter,, "'Diary of Anne Frank' at People's Light: A girl grows up, and horror descends," 27 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grubby.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of grubby

1725, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near grubby

grub ax




grub hoe

grub hook


Statistics for grubby

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grubby

The first known use of grubby was in 1725

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More Definitions for grubby



English Language Learners Definition of grubby

: dirty or messy


grub·​by | \ˈgrə-bē \
grubbier; grubbiest

Kids Definition of grubby

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More from Merriam-Webster on grubby

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grubby

Spanish Central: Translation of grubby

Nglish: Translation of grubby for Spanish Speakers

Comments on grubby

What made you want to look up grubby? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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