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Etymology 1[edit]

slab (mud, sludge) +‎ -y


slabby (comparative slabbier, superlative slabbiest)

  1. (of a liquid) Thick; viscous.
    • 1696, John Selden, Table-Talk, London: Jacob Tonson, “Pope,” p. 127,[1]
      The Pope in sending Relicks to Princes, does as Wenches do by their Wassels at New-years-tide, they present you with a Cup, and you must drink of a slabby stuff; but the meaning is, you must give them Moneys, ten times more than it is worth.
  2. (of a surface) Sloppy, slimy.
    • 1720, John Gay, “Of walking the Streets by Day” in Poems on Several Occasions, London: H. Lintot, J. & R. Tonson, and S. Draper, 1745, Volume 2, Trivia, Book II, p. 151, line 91-94,[2]
      When waggish boys the stunted beesom ply
      To rid the slabby pavement; pass not by
      Ere thou hast held their hands; some heedless flirt
      Will over-spread thy calves with spatt’ring dirt.
    • 1846, Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy, London: for the author, “Genoa and its Neighbourhood,” p. 48,[3]
      I went down into the garden, intended to be prim and quaint, with avenues, and terraces, and orange-trees, and statues, and water in stone basins; and everything was green, gaunt, weedy, straggling, under grown or over grown, mildewy, damp, redolent of all sorts of slabby, clammy, creeping, and uncomfortable life.
  3. (of weather) Rainy, wet.
    • 1581, John Studley (translator), Hercules Oetaeus, Act I, in Seneca his Tenne Tragedies, Translated into Englysh, London: Thomas Marsh,[4]
      To Virgo, Leo turnes the time, and in a reaking sweate.
      He buskling vp his burning Mane, doth dry the dropping south.
      And swallowes vp the slabby cloudes in fyry foming mouth.
    • 1676, John Evelyn, A Philosophical Discourse of Earth, London: John Martyn, p. 58,[5]
      [] I am only to caution our labourer as to the present work, that he do not stir the ground in over-wet and slabby weather []
Derived terms[edit]

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for slabby in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Etymology 2[edit]

slab (solid object that is large and flat) +‎ -y


slabby (comparative slabbier, superlative slabbiest)

  1. Comprised of slabs; resembling a slab or slabs; inelegant, cumbersome, clunky.
    • 1905, Robert W. Chambers, Iole, New York: D. Appleton, p. 3,[6]
      Then he set up another shop an’ hired some of us ’round here to go an’ make them big, slabby art-chairs.
    • 1962, Richard McKenna, The Sand Pebbles, New York: Harper & Row, Chapter ,[7]
      He was big and pink and slabby with muscle, but not very hairy, for a white man.
    • 2010, Euan Ferguson, “Hay’s unmissable (if you can get there...),” The Guardian, 30 May, 2010,[8]
      The papers were full yesterday morning, you see, of the iPad. [] a million fidget-fingered twits were salivating for the chance to show off their slabby electro-tablets []