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Shoddy (comparative shoddier, superlative shoddiest)

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


Shoddy (uncountable)
  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
    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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  • 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 the use of inexpensive shoddy (fabric from wool-processing byproduct) for unsuitable applications such as for military uniforms at the beginning of the US Civil War.






See also