measly

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English[edit]

A child with measles

Etymology[edit]

measle (singular of measles) +‎ -y; the word measle is either from Middle Dutch masel (a blister filled with blood; a pustule, a skin blemish), or Middle Low German masel (a red skin blemish), from Proto-Germanic *masuraz (a knot or scar in wood; a knarl), from *mas-, *mēs- (a spot; a sore; a scar), from Proto-Indo-European *mos- (a skin sore).

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

measly (comparative measlier, superlative measliest)

  1. Particularly of pigs or pork: infected with larval tapeworms or trichinae (parasitic roundworms). [from late 16th c.]
    • 1847, William Youatt, The Pig: A Treatise on the Breeds, Management, Feeding, and Medical Treatment, of Swine; with Directions for Salting Pork, and Curing Bacon and Hams, page 113:
      Then take five or six apples, pick out the cores and fill up the holes thus made with flour of brimstone; stop up the holes and cast in the apples to the measly hog.
  2. Of a person: infected with measles.
    • 1902, The Epworth Herald
      A measly boy, he looked like a tramp, probably one of the street boys from the village, just walked up here and made himself at home, and when I told him to leave, he wouldn't.
  3. (figuratively, informal) Small (especially contemptibly small) in amount. [from mid 19th c.]
    Synonyms: miserable, paltry, trifling
    • 2004, Richard Rizun, Ora, Trafford Publishing (→ISBN)
      The visiting tourists eagerly forked over a measly two dollars per group to their guides as payment for their services. This amount was measly sum to the givers, but a princely sum to the takers.
    • 2010, Marylee Daniel Mitcham, Blacktime Song by Rosalie Wolfe, Strategic Book Publishing (→ISBN), page 127:
      So it wasn't a hotel, as I said in my novel, just a measly motel. But to me it was like the First measly motel, and I remember laughing about the things I was saying straight from my unconscious to both his and God's ear.

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