The Meaning of Lousy: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the definition of the word lousy is? This article will give you all of the information necessary on the word loudy, including its definition, etymology, synonyms, useful sentence examples, and more!

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What does the word lousy mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, Vocabulary, and other dictionary apps, the word lousy is an adjective that has multiple different definitions. The first definition means that something is very bad, or having negative qualities. For example, someone could describe a mattress as lousy if the springs are sticking out, it is old, and it does not provide any support. The mattress is doing a lousy job at providing a good night’s rest.

The other definition of the word lousy is a colloquial way to say amply supplied, or rife with. While this definition originally meant that someone’s head was rife with lice and literally lousy, in modern day, it can be used to describe anything that exists in abundance. For example, a successful businesswoman could be described as “lousy with money.”

Related words include lousier, lousiest (superlative), lousiness (noun), and lousily (adverb). According to Google Translate, in Spanish, the word lousy is “malísimo”. In Portuguese, it is “nojento”. In Thai, it is “หมัด”. In Polish, it is “parszywy”. In Korean, it is “듬뿍 있는”. In French, it is “pouilleux”. In Italian, it is “schifoso”. In Romanian, it is “prost”. In Arabic, it is “رديء”. In Norwegian, it is “elendig”. Finally, in Turkish, it is “berbat”.

What are synonyms for the word lousy?

Since the word lousy has two different definitions, it has two different sets of synonyms. A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same meaning as another word or phrase; someone might choose to use a synonym in order to expand their vocabulary or to try not to repeat themselves. The first meaning of the word lousy is very bad, or having poor quality. This below list of synonyms is provided by Thesaurus.

  • rotten
  • inferior
  • mean
  • base
  • unwelcome
  • harmful
  • contemptible
  • horrible
  • slovenly
  • awful
  • unpopular
  • execrable
  • disliked
  • outrageous
  • low
  • vicious
  • vile
  • hateful
  • terrible
  • faulty
  • miserable
  • poor
  • no good
  • dirty
  • second-rate
  • shoddy
  • despicable

The second definition of lousy means to be rife with something. Therefore, this definition will have a whole other list of definitions. These synonyms are also provided by Thesaurus.

  • swarming
  • overflowing
  • chock-full
  • stuffed
  • complete
  • sated
  • jam-packed
  • alive
  • jammed
  • abounding
  • loaded
  • crowded
  • awash
  • thronged
  • charged
  • rife
  • satiated
  • abundant
  • full up
  • brimming
  • full
  • brimful
  • filled
  • packed
  • lavish
  • overfed
  • crammed
  • well-provided
  • plenteous
  • gorged
  • teeming
  • well-stocked
  • glutted
  • rife
  • luxurious
  • replete

How can the word lousy be used in a sentence?

Since the word lousy has two different definitions, this means that it can be used in two different ways. The word lousy can be used in a wide variety of different circumstances to refer to both things that are bad and things that are abundant. In this first example, the word lousy will be used to mean bad or poor quality. In this example, Nita and Ben arrive at school.

Nita: Are you okay? You look exhausted.

Ben: I am exhausted. I slept just lousy last night. My little brother was up all night crying. Hot tip: Make sure your parents don’t have another baby when you’re in high school.

Nita: Duly noted. I’m sorry.

Ben: It’s alright. There’s nothing I can really do about it.

Nita: Earplugs? Noise canceling headphones?

Ben: I’m afraid if I use one of those I won’t hear my alarm.

Here, Ben uses the word lousy to describe the terrible night’s sleep he had the night prior. In this next example, Nita will use the word lousy to describe something that is in abundance.

Nita: Ben! You gotta come down to the quad right now, they’re giving away free pizzas to everyone!

Ben: What? Why would they be giving away pizzas for free?

Nita: The student council accidentally ordered a gross instead of a dozen, and they have like over a hundred pizzas left over; they’re louse with pizzas! Let’s go!

Ben: Oh my God, we had better run.

Here, Nita uses the phrase lousy to describe the amount of pizzas that the student council has to give away. In this final example, the word lousy will be used to describe something that is bad. Nita and Ben just received their math tests back.

Ben: How did you do?

Nita: I’m afraid to look. You go first. How did you do?

Ben: Lousy. B-minus. 

Nita: That’s not lousy! You can totally still keep an A with a B-minus on one test. As for me… I got an A! Oh my God!

What is the origin of the word lousy?

According to Etymonline and Word Origins, the word lousy has a very obvious origin. The word came to be in the mid-14th century. Then, it meant that something was infested with lice. Louse, the insect, comes from the Old English lus and has other cognates in other Germanic languages. In the late 14th century, port William Langland used the word lousy for the first time in the 1377 poem “Piers Plowman”:

“With a hood on his head, a lousy hat above”

This takes on the literal sense of something being infested with lice. However soon after Geoffrey Chaucer uses the figurative meaning of louse in Friar’s Tale:

“A lousy juggler can deceive you.”

The phrase has been used figuratively since the late 14th century, and the sense of the word meaning “swarming with” has been used since the year 1843. In 1843, the journal The Spirit of the Times, a United Stated paper, used the phrase lousy for the first time in print to mean “swarming with.”

“He was lousy with money, and dared any man to face him.”

Overall, the word lousy has two different definitions. It can either mean to be full of or have an excessive amount of something, or it can mean to be poor in quality. The word lousy can be used in a wide variety of different circumstances to describe things that are very bad, or things that are abundant. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/lousy
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/replete?s=t
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lousy
  4. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/lousy#:~:text=The%20slang%20word%20lousy%20is,hang%20out%20on%20people’s%20scalps.
  5. https://www.wordorigins.org/big-list-entries/louse-lousy#:~:text=But%20unlike%20many%20words%2C%20the,cognates%20throughout%20the%20Germanic%20languages.
  6. https://www.etymonline.com/word/lousy