thread·​bare | \ ˈthred-ˌber How to pronounce threadbare (audio) \

Definition of threadbare

1a : having the nap worn off so that the thread shows : shabby threadbare clothes
b : wearing threadbare clothing : very poor took in threadbare relatives— Russell Baker
c : barely adequate because of cheapness or shabbiness a threadbare production
2 : exhausted of interest or freshness

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Other Words from threadbare

threadbareness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for threadbare

trite, hackneyed, stereotyped, threadbare mean lacking the freshness that evokes attention or interest. trite applies to a once effective phrase or idea spoiled from long familiarity. "you win some, you lose some" is a trite expression hackneyed stresses being worn out by overuse so as to become dull and meaningless. all of the metaphors and images in the poem are hackneyed stereotyped implies falling invariably into the same pattern or form. views of minorities that are stereotyped and out-of-date threadbare applies to what has been used until its possibilities of interest have been totally exhausted. a mystery novel with a threadbare plot

Examples of threadbare in a Sentence

bought a threadbare couch at a garage sale a novel filled with nothing but threadbare clichés
Recent Examples on the Web The Irons' squad is currently threadbare, too, with a litany of injuries and suspensions plaguing the team., "Brighton vs West Ham Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More," 2 Feb. 2018 Both arrangements and the original material by Mr. Kingsley were threadbare of musical substance. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Gershon Kingsley, Master of Electronic Sounds, Dies at 97," 15 Dec. 2019 Built around the hard-knock life of Maggie, who runs a threadbare tourist museum and is embodied with impeccably flinty authority by Judith Ivey, the play takes poignant stock of industrial midnight in one of America’s craggier outposts. Peter Marks, Washington Post, "‘Greater Clements’ is the best new play of the year," 10 Dec. 2019 But publisher LucasArts, wanting to capitalize on the success of the original KOTOR from the year before, reportedly gave that threadbare new team just 14 to 16 months to create a sequel. Austin Taylor, Ars Technica, "The modders who spent 15 years fixing Knights of the Old Republic 2," 5 Dec. 2019 People reaching for each other on threadbare towels laid across the scorching sand. Leslie Jamison, The Atlantic, "The Lovely Solitude of Standing in a Crowd," 6 Nov. 2019 At the end of the year — a crucial time for retailers — Sears’ threadbare Black Friday catalog signals it’s going to have problems getting shoppers to its doors. NBC News, "Sears limps into the holiday season with dingy shops, sparse shelves," 4 Dec. 2019 One potentially effective defense against Trump’s revocation is that it’s based on an exceedingly threadbare scientific rationale. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Can Trump legally revoke California’s clean air waiver? Probably not.," 19 Sep. 2019 Has there been a moment in recent American history in which words like these sound more threadbare? Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Justice Gorsuch calls for ‘civility,’ always a code for shutting down free speech," 13 Sep. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for threadbare

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The first known use of threadbare was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Threadbare.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for threadbare


How to pronounce threadbare (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of threadbare

: very thin and in bad condition from too much use
: not very effective, interesting, etc., because of being used too often


thread·​bare | \ ˈthred-ˌber How to pronounce threadbare (audio) \

Kids Definition of threadbare

1 : worn so much that the thread shows : shabby
2 : not effective because of overuse a threadbare excuse

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More from Merriam-Webster on threadbare

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for threadbare

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with threadbare

Spanish Central: Translation of threadbare

Nglish: Translation of threadbare for Spanish Speakers

Comments on threadbare

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


not to be intimidated or subdued

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