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threadbare

[thred-bair] /ˈθrɛdˌbɛər/
adjective
1.
having the nap worn off so as to lay bare the threads of the warp and woof, as a fabric, garment, etc.
2.
wearing threadbare clothes; shabby or poor:
a threadbare old man.
3.
meager, scanty, or poor:
a threadbare emotional life.
4.
hackneyed; trite; ineffectively stale:
threadbare arguments.
Origin of threadbare
1325-1375
1325-75; Middle English thredbare. See thread, bare1
Related forms
threadbareness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for threadbare
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The threadbare suit which he wore must have seen long service and either it had never been a very trim fit or he had lost flesh.

    Roy Blakeley in the Haunted Camp Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • She pressed the cat to her threadbare bosom with a breathless exclamation.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • The boy himself, dressed in a threadbare and patched black serge, had a sickly appearance.

  • Simple, threadbare phrases, yet she had once thought him brilliant.

    Erik Dorn Ben Hecht
  • His threadbare clerical jacket seemed several sizes too large for him.

    The Following of the Star Florence L. Barclay
British Dictionary definitions for threadbare

threadbare

/ˈθrɛdˌbɛə/
adjective
1.
(of cloth, clothing, etc) having the nap worn off so that the threads are exposed
2.
meagre or poor: a threadbare existence
3.
hackneyed: a threadbare argument
4.
wearing threadbare clothes; shabby
Derived Forms
threadbareness, 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 threadbare
adj.

mid-14c., from thread (n.) + bare. The notion is of "having the nap worn off," leaving bare the threads.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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16
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