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[see-mee] /ˈsi mi/
adjective, seamier, seamiest.
unpleasant or sordid; low; disagreeable:
the seamy side of life.
having, showing, or of the nature of a seam.
Origin of seamy
1595-1605; seam + -y1; in transferred senses alluding to the unpresentable appearance of the inside of a garment, i.e., where the seams show
Related forms
seaminess, noun
1. squalid, rough, coarse, nasty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for seamy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The top gave one the instant impression of the seamy side of a volcano.

    Boys' Second Book of Inventions Ray Stannard Baker
  • Suppose you come to see the seamy side of me—as you do of everybody?

    The Coryston Family Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Still, in these twenty years I have seen a great deal of the seamy side of the world.

  • She knew of life's seamy side as a theory; she could not grasp it as a fact.

    Howards End E. M. Forster
  • I have not sold furs for thirty years without knowing the seamy side of a Court robe.

British Dictionary definitions for seamy


adjective seamier, seamiest
showing the least pleasant aspect; sordid
(esp of the inner side of a garment) showing many seams
Derived Forms
seaminess, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for seamy

c.1600, "least pleasant, worst," in figurative phrase seamy side, from seam + -y (2); the seamy side of a sewn garment being the less attractive, and thus typically turned in. The popularity of the figurative sense likely is due to its use by Shakespeare in "Othello" IV.ii.146: "Some such Squire he was That turn'd your wits the seamy-side without, And made you to suspect me with the Moore."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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