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From a variant of flappy, from flap (to hang loose). Compare English dialectal flapsy (flabby), Middle Dutch flabbe (a slap in the face; a fan-blade; a hair ribbon; a wagging tongue), Middle Low German flabbe (a gaping mouth; a chatterbox), Danish flab (the jaw; cheeks; a malapert), Swedish flabb, fläff (the hanging underlip of an animal; guffaw; driveller), German Flabbe (a gob; muzzle).





flabby (comparative flabbier, superlative flabbiest)

  1. Yielding to the touch, and easily moved or shaken; hanging loose by its own weight; lacking firmness; flaccid.
    • 1867 December 28, John Wades, “External Manual Pressure during Labour”, in The British Medical Journal, volume 2, page 601:
      My attention was accidentally drawn to this aid, some five or six years ago, while attending a lady (multipara) in her confinement, who suffered from umbilical hernia, with large flabby abdomen.
    • 1899 February, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number M, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, [], →OCLC, part I, page 210:
      A neglected gap was all the gate it had, and the first glance at the place was enough to let you see the flabby devil was running that show.
    • 1961, The Violin Makers' Journal - Volume 5, page 71:
      The strings of some violins when up to pitch are loose and flabby; some are very taut and hard.
    • 2008, Kevin Cameron, Sportbike Performance Handbook, →ISBN, page 135:
      Chassis of 1950s-1970s bikes are flabby tubular structures, often weak to the point of lacking straight-line stability!
  2. (of wine) Having a slight lack of acidity; having mild sweetness.
    • 1996, Emile Peynaud, Jacques Blouin, The Taste of Wine: The Art Science of Wine Appreciation, →ISBN, page 229:
      A flabby wine might be described as a wine in which nothing stands out.
    • 2008, Thomas Pellechia, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Winery, →ISBN, page 103:
      An extremely hot region will give you flabby wine.
  3. (of writing, etc.) overwrought.
    • 2014, Mary Ellen Guffey, Dana Loewy, Business Communication: Process and Product, →ISBN, page 178:
      As you revise, focus on eliminating flabby expressions. This takes conscious effort. As one expert copyeditor observed, “Trim sentences, like trim bodies, usually require far more effort than flabby ones.
  4. (mathematics) Which forms a surjection from the domain to every open subset of the codomain.
    a flabby sheaf on a paracompact space


  • (having a slight lack of acidity): flat


  • (antonym(s) of yielding to the touch): muscled, taut

Derived terms