• WordNet 3.6
    • adj shabby-genteel trying to maintain dignity and self respect despite shabbiness
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • shabby-genteel Retaining in present shabbiness traces of former gentility; aping gentility, but really shabby.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Shabby-genteel keeping up or affecting an appearance of gentility, though really shabby
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
An adj. formed from shab, an old by-form of scab—thus a doublet of scabby.


In literature:

When I meet the father he is shabby to the outer limits of the genteel.
"Worldly Ways and Byways" by Eliot Gregory
He is not shabby-genteel.
"Sketches by Boz illustrative of everyday life and every-day people" by Charles Dickens
A SHABBY GENTEEL STORY, And several Sketches.
"Evenings at Donaldson Manor" by Maria J. McIntosh
The furnishings of the hall had a shabby-genteel look, till we reached the basement stairs, when every thing became bare, and dark, and dirty.
"The Continental Monthly, Vol. 2, No 3, September, 1862" by Various
The speaker was an elderly man of shabby-genteel appearance and polite address.
"Blue Lights" by R.M. Ballantyne
While he sat there spell-bound, a shabby-genteel man entered and sat down beside him.
"Dusty Diamonds Cut and Polished" by R.M. Ballantyne
Frank recalled the first day he had seen him, with his hat perched on the back of his head and his shabby, genteel exterior.
"The Man Who Knew" by Edgar Wallace
Indeed, he had a shabby-genteel look, as though he were a bit down on his luck.
"Hushed Up" by William Le Queux
A Shabby Genteel Story, and The Adventures of Philip.
"Lover or Friend" by Rosa Nouchette Carey
A shabby, genteel person was his abomination; a patch or darn, utterly horrifying!
"The Humors of Falconbridge" by Jonathan F. Kelley
They had stopped short before a long row of shabby-genteel houses in the outskirts of Kensington.
"Berenice" by E. Phillips Oppenheim
They passed a handsome girl, dressed in once genteel, but now shabby, finery.
"On the Heights" by Berthold Auerbach
It smacked of shabby, genteel poverty, the poverty of a Paris lodging-house.
"The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Vol. 6" by Guy de Maupassant
It was because of him that he was now enjoying the small miseries of the shabby genteel.
"The Pace That Kills" by Edgar Saltus
Those who patronised it were of the shabby-genteel order.
"A Woman's Burden" by Fergus Hume
At this moment an elderly stranger, of a shabby-genteel appearance, approached the Lion, and inquired the road to an adjoining village.
"Tales from Blackwood" by Various
I wore a frock suit of shabby genteel respectability, a frayed topper, and well-worn shoes.
"First Person Paramount" by Ambrose Pratt
This man was dressed in a seedy, shabby-genteel style, and soon became intimate with our lure.
"The City in the Clouds" by C. Ranger Gull
Hugh's clothes were shabby-genteel and the old slinking grace of wearing them was gone.
"Satan Sanderson" by Hallie Erminie Rives
Before the war their life had been the shabby genteel; it was now polite misery.
"The Iron Ration" by George Abel Schreiner