\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

Unfortunately the passing, individual episodes amount to more of a patchy sampler than a theatrical arc. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘ABT Women’s Movement’ Review: Creative Empowerment," 23 Oct. 2018 The ghost lobster’s look is likely due to a genetic condition called leucism, which causes a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal, resulting in white, pale and patchy coloration. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Maine fisherman catches rare 'ghost lobster'," 30 Aug. 2018 By the end of the day, my lips look faintly colored, rather than patchy, faded, or smudged. Ruby Buddemeyer, Marie Claire, "Burberry's Lip Velvet Crush Is the Perfect Lipstick for Lipstick Haters," 6 Aug. 2018 In areas under the Taliban control now, the group’s record is patchy. Saeed Shah, WSJ, "U.S. Faces Newly Muscular Taliban in Peace-Talk Efforts," 5 Nov. 2018 If patchy spots are the problem, a colored powder works best. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Ultimate Guide to Better Brows, from Microblading to Miracle Gel," 28 Oct. 2018 The other options the FCC cites include substandard satellite broadband, which is plagued by high latency and usage limits, and AT&T DSL, which is listed twice by the FCC but is patchy in its availability. Karl Bode, The Verge, "How bad maps are ruining American broadband," 24 Sep. 2018 For some people, trichotillomania is a mild disorder that is generally manageable, but for others, the compulsive urges leave them with patchy bald spots. Temi Adebowale, Harper's BAZAAR, "Model Sara Sampaio Reveals She Suffers From Trichotillomania," 30 July 2018 And the recovery has been patchy — Northern Virginia and Richmond have been strong, while Hampton Roads is flat and rural areas to the south and west are suffering as coal and textile industries have collapsed. Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, "Virginia posts revenue surplus, but is economic growth or tax strategy?," 12 July 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

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for patchy

The first known use of patchy was in 1583

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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).


living or existing for a long time

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