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Origin obscure. Possibly a corruption of Silesia, through a word meaning “Silesian cloth”. Silesia used to be the most important location of Germany’s weaving industry.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsliː.zi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːzi


sleazy (comparative sleazier, superlative sleaziest)

  1. Marked by low quality; inferior; inadequate.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:low-quality
    • 2014, Louis V. Rohr, The President's Hero, iUniverse, →ISBN, page 3:
      Al bought my furniture at ten percent of its value and Jim drove me to a sleazy side-avenue hotel, where I obtained a room at a low rate.
  2. Raunchy or perverted in nature; tastelessly sexual.
    Synonym: skeezy
    • 1979, “Sleazy”, in Live and Sleazy, performed by Village People:
      Sleazy, yeah, I like it sleazy / Oh let's get nasty baby / I like it sleazy / I'll take you for a bad ride
    • 2000, Stephen D. Dighton, Locked In, Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN, page 226:
      Nancy knew it was a sleazy movie because the channel's logo appeared in the lower right corner of the screen. This satellite station only showed sleazy films at this time of the night. Actually its selection of films was trashy at any time, but the after-eleven fare was especially so. [] It's garbage, a step or two removed from pornography.
  3. Untrustworthy.
    Synonyms: unreliable, questionable, sketchy, shady, slimy
    • 1934, Lew Levenson, chapter VIII, in Butterfly Man:
      She hated Ed Feinberg, the sleazy, lying, blood-sucking small-timer. Still he was a man; if he had called her up in the old days, in Seattle, she'd have entertained him.
    • 2007, Milton T. Burton, The Sweet and the Dead, St. Martin's Press, →ISBN, page 1:
      The Gold Dust was a sleazy place, a clip joint with crooked gambling tables in the back and a fleet of B-girls who would give you a few minutes' vapid conversation and a peek at the tops of their breasts if you bought them a three-dollar drink []
    • 2011, Gary Patella, Diary of an Evil Genius, Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN, page 38:
      Their reasons are mainly because they are simply people that I would consider sleazysleazy, slimy, shady, whatever term you want to use. The point is that, I am not one of them.
  4. (dated, of fabric) Thin and flimsy.
    • 1855, Herman Melville, Israel Potter:
      Shortly after his return in infirm old age to his native land, a little narrative of his adventures, forlornly published on sleazy gray paper, appeared among the peddlers, written, probably, not by himself, but taken down from his lips by another.
    • 1912, Edna Ferber, “What She Wore”, in Buttered Side Down:
      I hesitate to describe Sophy Epstein's dress. You won't like it. In the first place, it was cut too low, front and back, for a shoe clerk in a downtown loft. It was a black dress, near-princess in style, very tight as to fit, very short as to skirt, very sleazy as to material.
    • 1920, Sinclair Lewis, chapter 12, in Main Street:
      She noted with tenderness all the makeshifts: the darned chair-arms, the patent rocker covered with sleazy cretonne, the pasted strips of paper mending the birch-bark napkin-rings labeled "Papa" and "Mama."
    • 1920, Robert Welles Ritchie, chapter 4, in Trails to Two Moons:
      Hilma donned her oldest dress, carried pick and shovel to a flower-blown knoll above the creek and there chose a site for the grave. [] Soon the sleazy dress clung to her back with a sweat of toil, and its stretched web undulated to the smooth play of muscles from shoulder to midback.

Usage notes[edit]

The following example shows the first three senses in a single sentence:

  • 2000, Barbara Delinsky, The Vineyard: A Novel, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 289:
    Or was it money for sex, left on a sleazy [low quality] nightstand by a sleazy [untrustworthy] John when he finished doing his sleazy [perverted] thing?

Sleazy John may be interpreted as untrustworthy, perverted or both in this case.

Derived terms[edit]


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