Wretched vs Shabby - What's the difference?

wretched | shabby |

As adjectives the difference between wretched and shabby

is that wretched is very miserable; sunk in, or accompanied by, deep affliction or distress, as from want, anxiety, or grief; calamitous; woeful; very afflicting while shabby is torn or worn; poor; mean; ragged.



(Webster 1913)


  • Very miserable; sunk in, or accompanied by, deep affliction or distress, as from want, anxiety, or grief; calamitous; woeful; very afflicting.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1918, author=(w)
  • , title=Creatures That Once Were Men, and other stories, chapter=4 citation , passage=As for me, I felt wretched and helpless, in the darkness, surrounded with angry waves, whose noise deafened me.}}
  • Worthless; paltry; very poor or mean; miserable.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1864, author=(Fyodor Dostoyevsky), title=Notes from Underground, chapter=1
  • citation , passage=My room is a wretched , horrid one in the outskirts of the town.}}
  • *, chapter=17
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=This time was most dreadful for Lilian. Thrown on her own resources and almost penniless, she maintained herself and paid the rent of a wretched room near the hospital by working as a charwoman, sempstress, anything.}}
  • * , Episode 16
  • All those wretched quarrels, in his humble opinion, stirring up bad blood, from some bump of combativeness or gland of some kind, erroneously supposed to be about a punctilio of honour and a flag,.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2011, date=April 11, author=Phil McNulty, work=BBC Sport
  • , title= Liverpool 3-0 Man City , passage=Mario Balotelli replaced Tevez but his contribution was so negligible that he suffered the indignity of being substituted himself as time ran out, a development that encapsulated a wretched 90 minutes for City and boss Roberto Mancini. }}
  • (obsolete) Hatefully contemptible; despicable; wicked.
  • Usage notes

    * Nouns to which "wretched" is often applied: woman, state, life, condition, creature, man, excess, person, place, world, being, situation, weather, slave, animal, city, village, health, house, town.


    * To what wretched state reserved! Milton * Wretched ungratefulness . Sir Philip Sidney * Wrechet World King Lear


    * See also

    Derived terms

    * wretchedness




  • Torn or worn; poor; mean; ragged.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1905, author=
  • , title= , chapter=2 citation , passage=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.
  • Clothed with ragged, much worn, or soiled garments.
  • The fellow arrived looking rather shabby after journeying so far.
  • Mean; paltry; despicable.
  • shabby treatment

    Derived terms

    * shabby-genteel (Webster 1913)