• WordNet 3.6
    • adj threadbare repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse "bromidic sermons","his remarks were trite and commonplace","hackneyed phrases","a stock answer","repeating threadbare jokes","parroting some timeworn axiom","the trite metaphor `hard as nails'"
    • adj threadbare having the nap worn away so that the threads show through "threadbare rugs"
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Threadbare Fig.: Worn out; as, a threadbare subject; stale topics and threadbare quotations.
    • Threadbare Worn to the naked thread; having the nap worn off; threadbare clothes. "A threadbare cope."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • threadbare Having the thread bare; worn so that the nap is lost and the thread is visible, either wholly or in certain parts: said of a piece of textile fabric, as in a garment, or of the garment itself.
    • threadbare Wearing threadbare clothes; shabby; seedy.
    • threadbare Well-worn; much used; hence, hackneyed; trite: as, a threadbare jest.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Threadbare worn to the bare thread: having the nap worn off: hackneyed: used till its novelty or interest is gone
    • ***


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. thrǽdthráwan, to wind, to twist; Ger. drehen.


In literature:

The pretext was threadbare.
"Tristram of Blent" by Anthony Hope
It is a great treat for him to spin his threadbare yarns over again to a sympathetic listener.
"The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 17, No. 100, February, 1866" by Various
He was a shabby figure, this "old Fritz," in threadbare blue uniform with red facings.
"Heroes of Modern Europe" by Alice Birkhead
He wore his uniform till it was patched and threadbare, while he gave two dollars each for cherries in the winter.
"Amos Huntingdon" by T.P. Wilson
Yet the arm of the sofa on which Edwin leaned was threadbare in two different places.
"Clayhanger" by Arnold Bennett
It takes courage to wear threadbare clothes while your comrades dress in broadcloth.
"Pushing to the Front" by Orison Swett Marden
What care I for the conventional, the threadbare significance?
"'That Very Mab'" by May Kendall and Andrew Lang
A dingy and threadbare shawl partly hides her poor calico wrap and patched apron.
"Children of the Tenements" by Jacob A. Riis
It takes courage to wear threadbare clothes while your comrades dress in broadcloth.
"Architects of Fate" by Orison Swett Marden
I drew my threadbare coat closer about me, for I was shivering with the cold.
"The House" by Eugene Field

In poetry:

And so his creature heart is filled;
His shrunken self goes starved away.
Let him wear brand-new garments still,
Who has a threadbare soul, I say.
"The Mendicants" by Bliss William Carman
For we are what we are—
So broke to blood
And the strict works of war—
So long subdued
To sacrifice, that threadbare Death commands
Hardly observance at our busier hands.
"Rebirth" by Rudyard Kipling
Rich Owen will tell you,
With eyes full of scorn Threadbare is my coat,
And my hosen are torn Scoff on, my rich Owen,
For faint is thy glee When the maid of Llanwellyn
Smiles sweetly on me.
"The Maid Of Llanwellyn" by Joanna Baillie
While I issued forth in a more humble sphere,
With a coat you might see through--my best was threadbare;
Then what expectation to win a fair maid,
When the tongue or the dress never come to our aid?
"The Timid Lover" by William Hutton
My Breeches torn, my Coat threadbare,
Go, court Dame Fortune's daughters fair,
Says SAM, and you'll be well drest;
Z—-d's SAM, it is most clearly seen,
That I full long have married been
To that vile jade, the Eldest.
"Epigram" by Royall Tyler
Then looking hard upon her, came to him
The power to feel and to perceive. Her teeth
Chattered, and all her limbs with shuddering failed,
And in her threadbare shawl was wrapped a child
That looked on him with wondering, wistful eyes.
"Laurance - [Part 2]" by Jean Ingelow

In news:

Bar and club owners have a love affair with the underage crowd during these threadbare times.
This store is strictly for men, though we recommend it highly to any woman who has tired of her man's old, threadbare boxer briefs that, having been washed thousands of times, scream for a spicier set of replacements.
Then why are you considering wearing a ratty, threadbare tankini to your weekend beach soiree.
The Financial Industry's Threadbare Astroturf.
Social safety net is all but threadbare .
Continuing the threadbare gun debate.
Afghan carpet industry left threadbare by machinery.
How to recycle those threadbare duds.
Social safety net is all but threadbare.
She is worn, tattered, threadbare, and has been flown over all of our battlefields, both foreign and domestic.
ATLANTA, Oct 9, 2012 – Imagine fighting a building fire with gardening gloves or walking into a 1,000°F-degree room with threadbare boots.
"Have to Pretend," the brand-new song from the Cave Singers—from their upcoming album Naomi (due out on Jagjaguwar in March)—continues their stream of taking familiar, even threadbare folk and rock elements and coming up with something fresh.
How to recycle those threadbare duds .
At least a dozen top English organists have already quit their threadbare church stools here and headed over in the past year.
Words worn threadbare in the service of mediocrity look appallingly perfunctory when returned to their intended us...

In science:

Once such singular points are established, however, irreversible damage will be done to the surface: iron out the creases we may but the paper will remain scored, the can scarred and, perhaps this is stretching the analogy, shirts do become threadbare.
How paper folds: bending with local constraints