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  • Unknown, but possibly from shoad(loose stone and rubble), from Old English scádan(to divide), or possibly from the Arabic word for reuse. Shoad was of inferior quality for building.
  • The modern adjectival sense was apparently derived from inexpensive shoddy(fabric from wool-processing byproduct), which was not really suitable for (but was sometimes still used for) things such as military uniforms at the beginning of the US Civil War.



shoddy ‎(comparative shoddier, superlative shoddiest)

  1. Of poor quality or construction
    Do not settle for shoddy knives if you are serious about cooking.



shoddy ‎(countable and uncountable, plural shoddies)

  1. A low-grade cloth made from by-products of wool processing, or from recycled wool.
    • 1849, “A Statistical Outline of the Present Condition & Progress of the Anglo-Saxon Race”, in The Anglo-Saxon‎, page 123:
      Formerly, shoddy cloth was “used only for padding, and such like purposes, but now blankets, flushings, druggets, carpets, and table covers, cloth for pilot and Petersham great” coats, &c., are either wholly or partly made of shoddy, which, in fact, is “occasionally worn by everybody. The beautiful woollen table covers are made wholly of shoddy, being printed by aqua-fortis from designs drawn in London and Manchester, and cut on holly and other blocks, on the spot.”
    • 1988, James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, Oxford 2003, p. 324:
      To fill contracts for hundreds of thousands of uniforms, textile manufacturers compressed the fibers of recycled woolen goods into a material called “shoddy”.



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