(comparative drabber, superlative drabbest)
- Dull, uninteresting, particularly of colour.
Middle English, meaning "color of undyed cloth", from Middle French drap (“cloth”), from Late Latin drappus (“drabcloth, kerchief”) (6th century, Vita Caesaris Arelatis) , from Gaulish *drappo, from Proto-Indo-European *drep- (“to scratch, tear”) (compare Old Norse trof (“fringes”), trefja (“to rub, wear out”), Lithuanian drãpanos (“household linens”), Serbo-Croatian drápati (“to scratch, scrape”), Ancient Greek δρέπω (drépein, “to pluck”), Avestan [script?] (drafša, “flag, banner”), Sanskrit द्रापि (drāpí, “mantle, gown”)).
(third-person singular simple present drabs, present participle drabbing, simple past and past participle drabbed)
- 1907, Justin Huntly McCarthy, Needles and pins, page 82:
- He did not relish the apparition of that Katherine, for when it appeared it seemed to bring with it a brother shadow that wore ragged clothes and tangled hair and foul linen, that drank from any flagon and drabbed with any doxy, that slept in tavern angles through hours of drunkenness, a thing whose fingers pillaged, filched, and pilfered when and where they could, a creature that once he saw whenever he stared into a mirror.
Origin uncertain; probably compare Irish drabog, Gaelic drabag (“dirty woman”).