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From shab (scab) +‎ -y, or directly from an alteration of scabby. Cognate with Scots shabby (in poor health, ill), Dutch schabbig (poor, needy, shabby), Middle Low German schabbich (miserable), German schäbig (shabby), Swedish skabbig (scabby), Swedish sjabbig (shabby, mangy, scruffy).


  • IPA(key): /ˈʃæb.i/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æbi


shabby (comparative shabbier, superlative shabbiest)

  1. (of clothing) Torn or worn; unkempt.
    They lived in a tiny apartment, with some old, shabby furniture.
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Affair at the Novelty Theatre[1]:
      Miss Phyllis Morgan, as the hapless heroine dressed in the shabbiest of clothes, appears in the midst of a gay and giddy throng; she apostrophises all and sundry there, including the villain, and has a magnificent scene which always brings down the house, and nightly adds to her histrionic laurels.
  2. (of a person) Wearing ragged, very worn, or dirty clothing.
    The fellow arrived looking rather shabby after journeying so far.
  3. Mean; despicable.
    shabby treatment
  4. Poor; showing little effort or talent.
    His painting is not too shabby.

Derived terms[edit]


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shabby”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.