\ ˈsē-mē How to pronounce seamy (audio) \
seamier; seamiest

Definition of seamy

1 archaic : having the rough side of the seam showing
2a : unpleasant
b : degraded, sordid the seamy side of urban life

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from seamy

seaminess noun

Examples of seamy in a Sentence

She was involved in a seamy corruption scandal.

Recent Examples on the Web

At trial, prosecutors are expected to present evidence that purports to expose a seamy side of the billion-dollar industry of Division I college basketball and has prompted calls for sweeping overhauls. Rebecca Davis O’brien, WSJ, "Criminal Trial to Cap Off Tumultuous Year in NCAA Basketball," 27 Sep. 2018 Nothing quite ups the tawdry factor in an already seamy situation than these ritual apologies. Marcia Desanctis, Town & Country, "Mark Sanford, Act II," 14 Feb. 2013 Like Simon’s The Wire, The Deuce also offers a panoramic view of a system whose every level is connected in a seamy web of corruption and exploitation. Joy Press, HWD, "How The Deuce Turned Its Lens on a Female Porn Auteur," 20 June 2018 At The Baffler, Zach Webb looks behind the Dream Machine’s whimsical facade to pick apart its seamy underbelly. Michelle Weber, Longreads, "You’ll Dream What We Tell You To Dream and You’ll Like It," 5 May 2018 The seamy and saintly business of biblical relic collecting dates back to the fourth century, when Helena of Constantine came to Jerusalem looking for pieces of the True Cross. Nina Burleigh, Newsweek, "The Messiah Cometh: Hobby Lobby's Museum of the Bible Descends on the Nation's Capital," 7 Apr. 2016 Staged by John Ferry, the comedy explores the seamier side of Hollywood, the reality lurking just underneath Tinseltown’s Botoxed and styled-to-the-hilt façade. Christine Dolen, miamiherald, "‘Clark Gable Slept Here’ still hilarious second time around | Miami Herald," 6 Feb. 2018 On the seamier side, David Warner is positively chilling as a ruthless valet. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Titanic': THR's 1997 Review," 19 Dec. 2017 As a reporter determined to strip Wall Street to its seamy underbelly, Theresa Avia Lim never conveys anything like rabid ambition. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘Junk’ Revives a Go-Go Era of Debt and Duplicity," 2 Nov. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of seamy

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about seamy

Statistics for seamy

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for seamy

The first known use of seamy was in 1605

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for seamy



English Language Learners Definition of seamy

: of or relating to unpleasant and usually illegal things (such as crime, drugs, etc.)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on seamy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with seamy

Spanish Central: Translation of seamy

Nglish: Translation of seamy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of seamy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on seamy

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!