\ˈpa-chē \
patchier; patchiest

Definition of patchy 

1 : marked by, consisting of, or diversified with patches

2 : irregular in appearance, makeup, or quality

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Other Words from patchy

patchily \ˈpa-chə-lē \ adverb
patchiness \ˈpa-chē-nəs \ noun

Examples of patchy in a Sentence

The lawn is kind of patchy this year. Patchy fog made driving difficult. His knowledge of the language is patchy. She has only a patchy understanding of his condition.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The evidence that therapy animals can help treat people with psychiatric issues is patchy, yet emotional-support animals seem to be everywhere, perhaps most noticeably on planes. Nathaniel Morris,, "Does your pooch really need Prozac?," 1 May 2018 The evidence that therapy animals can help treat people with psychiatric issues is patchy, yet emotional-support animals seem to be everywhere, perhaps most noticeably on planes. Nathaniel Morris, Washington Post, "Does your pooch really need Prozac?," 28 Apr. 2018 His first years were promising but patchy, and to say this has been a breakout season for Salah is a massive understatement. Andi Thomas, Vox, "Soccer star Mo Salah’s massive popularity is changing perceptions of Muslims in the UK," 15 June 2018 The weather system responsible for Monday's drenching will move off across the lower Great Lakes on Tuesday, taking with it the threat of any significant rain, though low clouds, fog and patchy drizzle may linger much of the morning. Tom Skilling,, "Dry days to follow Chicago area's latest soaking," 21 May 2018 The backyard had been a patchy mess of dirt and grass. R. Daniel Foster,, "Before and After: A reimagined Midcentury design helps turn a home from frumpy to fabulous," 6 July 2018 This agreement was replicated across multiple industries, and forms the basis of our present patchy, bloated, inefficient, expensive health-care industry. WSJ, "Tax-Free Health Spending Is Only the Start," 5 July 2018 But this data, patchy and stuck in time, doesn’t do a lot to help public health officials on the ground. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "We Have No Idea How Bad the US Tick Problem Is," 4 July 2018 The unequal economy that's emerged over the past decade, combined with patchy access to health care in rural areas, have had a severe impact on the people growing America's food. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "Farmers in America are killing themselves in staggering numbers," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patchy.' 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 patchy

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near patchy

patch up


patchwork quilt



pat down


Statistics for patchy

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for patchy

The first known use of patchy was in 1583

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More Definitions for patchy



English Language Learners Definition of patchy

: having some parts that are good and some that are bad

: existing or seen in some areas but not others

: not thorough or complete enough to be useful

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More from Merriam-Webster on patchy

Spanish Central: Translation of patchy

Nglish: Translation of patchy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of patchy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on patchy

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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