thread·​bare ˈthred-ˌber How to pronounce threadbare (audio)
: having the nap worn off so that the thread shows : shabby
threadbare clothes
: wearing threadbare clothing : very poor
took in threadbare relativesRussell Baker
: barely adequate because of cheapness or shabbiness
a threadbare production
: exhausted of interest or freshness
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views of minorities that are stereotyped and out-of-date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

Example Sentences

bought a threadbare couch at a garage sale a novel filled with nothing but threadbare clichés
Recent Examples on the Web One is a threadbare pair of Craft tights that has Windstopper panels on the crotch and thighs. Frederick Dreier, Outside Online, 15 Feb. 2023 After a 13-year absence, James Cameron returned to Pandora and 2010-era debates came roaring back: Does the VFX spectacle of Avatar: The Way of Water justify the lackluster story and threadbare characterization? Joe Reid, Vulture, 1 Mar. 2023 The nation’s health care system is so threadbare that Haitians regularly die of easily treatable ailments like diarrhea, and public hospitals often have to charge patients for basics like syringes and gloves. Catherine Porter, New York Times, 22 Apr. 2020 There, threadbare health care services, the impossibility of social distancing in packed slum communities, and an absence of economic safety nets are incubating a human tragedy of potentially cataclysmic scale. Paul Salopek, National Geographic, 6 Apr. 2020 And proximity to both nature and death can sometimes draw us closer to it, can thin the veil into something threadbare and shimmering. Mary Pembleton, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2020 After the unexpected gift of Lamb, the second day was about the need to stock a threadbare defense. David Moore, Dallas News, 25 Apr. 2020 Inside a tent encampment in Sicily, an immigrant laborer ties a threadbare piece of cloth over his face to protect himself from the virus. David Kortava, The New Yorker, 20 Apr. 2020 Coronavirus response is currently a threadbare patchwork of local, state, and national activity, but that may change as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc. David Karpf, Wired, 10 Apr. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'threadbare.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near threadbare

Cite this Entry

“Threadbare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2023.

Kids Definition


thread·​bare ˈthred-ˌba(ə)r How to pronounce threadbare (audio)
: worn so much that the thread shows : shabby
threadbare clothes
: barely adequate
a threadbare store with few items
a threadbare event lacking excitement
: having lost freshness and interest from overuse
threadbare jokes

More from Merriam-Webster on threadbare

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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