shab·​by | \ ˈsha-bē How to pronounce shabby (audio) \
shabbier; shabbiest

Definition of shabby

1 : clothed with worn or seedy garments a shabby hobo
2a : threadbare and faded from wear a shabby sofa
b : ill-kept : dilapidated a shabby neighborhood
3a : mean, despicable, contemptible must feel shabby … because of his compromises— Nat Hentoff
b : ungenerous, unfair laments the shabby way in which this country often treated a poet— Paul Engle
c : inferior in quality shabby reasoning

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Other Words from shabby

shabbily \ ˈsha-​bə-​lē How to pronounce shabby (audio) \ adverb
shabbiness \ ˈsha-​bē-​nəs How to pronounce shabby (audio) \ noun

Examples of shabby in a Sentence

The furniture was old and shabby. He wore a shabby coat. Her first apartment was pretty shabby. They complained about the shabby treatment they received at the hotel. Backing out of the deal was a shabby thing to do.
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Recent Examples on the Web What does Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan propose in Ohio, and does that mean our infrastructure is in shabby shape? Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Ohio roads are in bad shape, but do they really cost each Ohio driver $500 a year in repair bills? This Week in the CLE," 13 Apr. 2021 Snot running down his nose; greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes. Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone, "Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson Talks Poetry, Songwriting in ‘Silent Singing’ Excerpt," 7 Apr. 2021 Inadequate training, shabby maintenance and poor judgment by leaders led to the sinking of a seafaring tank last year off Southern California that killed nine service members, according to findings of a Marine Corps investigation released Thursday. Julie Watson, Star Tribune, "Human errors, mechanical woes caused Marine tank sinking," 25 Mar. 2021 Some men were dressed painfully shabby, with women who matched. Amanda Walker, al, "The past cannot be judged by the standards of today," 20 Mar. 2021 The news of 2018 complaint over bullying by Meghan was seen by many as a preemptive strike by palace staff to undercut the royal couple’s complaints of shabby treatment by the palace. Washington Post, "Royal correspondents predict Buckingham Palace will issue statement to counter Harry and Meghan’s claims of racism and rejection," 9 Mar. 2021 But after a century of vacationers, the shabby-chic transomed rooms (sans air conditioning), peanut butter and bacon canapes at cocktail hour, and a strict, clubby dress code, were in need of a refresh. Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "Tour Boca Grande's Newly Renovated Gasparilla Inn," 5 Mar. 2021 Over the shabby apartment that houses Lorraine Hansberry’s compellingly beautiful story of dreams deferred at the Garden Theatre, the audience can see where the plaster has fallen away, revealing the bricks underneath. Matthew J. Palm,, "Critic’s pick: ‘Raisin in the Sun’ beautifully shows us family’s souls | Review," 6 Mar. 2021 Germany has been reluctant to rehabilitate its shabby armed services. Steve Forbes, Forbes, "Is The U.S.-Germany Relationship At Risk? What This Means For China And Russia," 12 Mar. 2021

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

1669, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shabby

obsolete English shab a low fellow

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Statistics for shabby

Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shabby.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for shabby



English Language Learners Definition of shabby

: in poor condition especially because of age or use
: dressed in clothes that are old and worn
informal : not fair, generous, or reasonable


shab·​by | \ ˈsha-bē How to pronounce shabby (audio) \
shabbier; shabbiest

Kids Definition of shabby

1 : faded and worn from use or wear shabby clothes
2 : in poor condition : dilapidated a shabby house
3 : dressed in worn clothes
4 : not fair or generous We received shabby treatment.

Other Words from shabby

shabbily \ ˈsha-​bə-​lē \ adverb shabbily dressed

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