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. Torn or worn; unkempt.
    • 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.
    They lived in a tiny apartment, with some old, shabby furniture.
  2. Clothed with ragged, much worn, or soiled garments.
    The fellow arrived looking rather shabby after journeying so far.
  3. Mean; paltry; despicable.
    shabby treatment

Derived termsEdit

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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.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 shabby in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.