scraw·​ny ˈskrȯ-nē How to pronounce scrawny (audio)
scrawnier; scrawniest
: exceptionally thin and slight or meager in body or size
scrawny scrub cattle
scrawniness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for scrawny

lean, spare, lank, lanky, gaunt, rawboned, scrawny, skinny mean thin because of an absence of excess flesh.

lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours.

a lean racehorse

spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise.

the gymnast's spare figure

lank implies tallness as well as leanness.

the lank legs of the heron

lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness.

a lanky youth, all arms and legs

gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering.

a prisoner's gaunt face

rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment.

a rawboned farmer

scrawny and skinny imply an extreme leanness that suggests deficient strength and vitality.

a scrawny chicken
skinny street urchins

Examples of scrawny in a Sentence

The only plants in their yard were a couple of scrawny bushes.
Recent Examples on the Web The fighter, a scrawny guy whose swagger looks put-on, hides his face in a monkey mask. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Mar. 2024 While Linda is deciding which scrawny tree to pick at the nearly empty tree lot, Louise (Kristen Schaal) goes over her plan to trap Santa later that night., 27 Nov. 2023 This scrawny, 135-pound novice wanted to try a brutish contact sport? Sam Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 12 Jan. 2024 Outweighed by more than 30 pounds, the scrawny, gritty Harrelson got the worst of it. Staff and Wire Reports, The Mercury News, 12 Jan. 2024 But the swollen jaw and nose could complicate a deer’s ability to eat properly, which is why deer with the condition tend to look scrawny and underfed. Katie Hill, Outdoor Life, 11 Sep. 2023 Sonic Life largely reads like a post-punk coming-of-age story, tracing its protagonist’s journey from scrawny Connecticut fringe kid to New York alt-rock titan. Samuel Hyland, Pitchfork, 25 Oct. 2023 Nodding along at the plastic folding table where XO and Pablo are holding court is the slick-talking rapper Funny $Money, a scrawny videographer who goes by JuicedUpFilmz, and some friends. Alphonse Pierre, Pitchfork, 21 Aug. 2023 Nicks’s film chooses instead to highlight Curry’s preferred narrative about himself: a scrawny, undersized kid passed over by nearly every Division I college basketball team only to one day become a four-time NBA Champion and two-time MVP. Jennifer Wilson, The New Republic, 26 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scrawny.' 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

1833, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of scrawny was in 1833

Dictionary Entries Near scrawny

Cite this Entry

“Scrawny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


scraw·​ny ˈskrȯ-nē How to pronounce scrawny (audio)
scrawnier; scrawniest
: poorly nourished : skinny
scrawniness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on scrawny

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