drab 1[drab] ExamplesWord Origin adjective, drab·ber, drab·best.

  1. dull; cheerless; lacking in spirit, brightness, etc.
  2. having the color drab.


  1. dull gray; dull brownish or yellowish gray.
  2. any of several fabrics of this color, especially of thick wool or cotton.

Origin of drab 1 1535–45; Middle French drap Late Latin drappus piece of clothRelated formsdrab·ly, adverbdrab·ness, noun Examples from the Web for drably Historical Examples of drably

  • They went through drab halls and into drab rooms where drab occupants greeted them drably, and Jane ached with the ugliness of it.

    Jane Journeys On

    Ruth Comfort Mitchell

  • To-day it is, next to St. John’s Wood, the most drably respectable quarter of the town.

    Nights in London

    Thomas Burke

  • The crowd lining the opposite side of the street stood in solid ranks, drably clad, eyes following the procession, mouths working.

    It Could Be Anything

    John Keith Laumer

  • British Dictionary definitions for drably drab 1 adjective drabber or drabbest

    1. dull; dingy; shabby
    2. cheerless; drearya drab evening
    3. of the colour drab


    1. a light olive-brown colour
    2. a fabric of a dull grey or brown colour

    Derived Formsdrably, adverbdrabness, nounWord Origin for drab C16: from Old French drap cloth, from Late Latin drappus, perhaps of Celtic origin drab 2 noun

    1. a slatternly woman
    2. a whore

    verb drabs, drabbing or drabbed

    1. (intr) to consort with prostitutes

    Word Origin for drab C16: of Celtic origin; compare Scottish Gaelic drabag Word Origin and History for drably drab n.

    1680s, “color of natural, undyed cloth,” from Middle French drap (see drape (n.)). Figurative sense is c.1880. Apparently not related to earlier word meaning “a dirty, untidy woman” (1510s), “a prostitute” (1520s), which seems to be connected with Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag “dirty woman,” and perhaps with Low German drabbe “dirt.” Ultimately perhaps from PIE *dher- “to make muddy.” Meaning “small, petty debt” (the sense in dribs and drabs) is 1828, of uncertain connection to the other senses.

    Idioms and Phrases with drably drab

    see dribs and drabs.

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