Sketchy Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

If someone describes something as sketchy, it may leave you feeling a little sus — but what exactly does “sketchy” mean, and where did this interesting word come from? We’ll tell you. 

In this article, we’re exploring the world of terminology to uncover all there is to know about the word “sketchy.” So if you’ve ever been curious about our word of the day’s definition, origin, or proper usage, keep reading. 

What Is the Definition of Sketchy?

/ˈskeCHē/ /ˈskɛtʃi/ /ˈsketʃi/

The Macmillan English Dictionary tells us that the adjective sketchy can be used to reference something resembling a sketch — as in it’s drawn up with very little detail, for example, a sketchy map or a sketchy picture. 

However, that is not the only way to define our word of the day — it can also be used to reference something that is lacking in detail, of doubtful quality, not thorough, or missing important and vital points. A few examples of this would be things like sketchy memories, a sketchy account, or sketchy evidence.

In addition, the Cambridge Dictionary says the adjective sketchy can also refer to something unreliable or even untrustworthy: 

  • of questionable trustworthiness or authenticity — for example, a sketchy character or sketchy information.
  • Dangerous or potentially harmful, of dubious safety — an example of this would be a sketchy neighborhood 

Furthermore, you may run into a few other words formed from sketchy that hold the same or similar meanings, such as:

  • Noun — sketch·i·ly
  • Adverb — sketch·i·ness 
  • Superlative — sketchier
  • Comparative — sketchiest

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Sketchy?

Below you will find the synonyms and antonyms of sketchy, which have been provided by the Collins Thesaurus: 

Synonyms of Sketchy

  • Incomplete
  • Cursory
  • Inadequate
  • Perfunctory
  • Scrappy
  • Full of holes
  • Superficial
  • Bitty
  • Rough
  • Skimpy
  • Slight
  • Vague
  • Crude
  • On the back of an envelope
  • Outline
  • Unfinished
  • Fragmentary
  • Imprecise
  • Cobbled together
  • Insufficient
  • Helter-skelter
  • Without purpose 
  • Limited
  • Off the wall
  • Patchy
  • Not up to scratch
  • Leaving much to be desired 
  • Rudimentary
  • Fuzzy
  • Hasty
  • Hurried
  • At a premium 
  • Meager
  • Scanty
  • Provisional
  • Rough and tumble 
  • Coarse 
  • Defective
  • Rough and ready 
  • Depthless
  • Faulty
  • In short supply 
  • Hazy
  • Imperfect
  • Introductory 
  • Won’t hold water 
  • Preliminary 
  • Shallow
  • Too little 
  • Unclear
  • Self-contradictory 
  • Uncritical
  • Wooly
  • Not enough 
  • Dicey
  • Wishy-washy
  • Empty headed 
  • Roughly made
  • Dodgy
  • Seedy
  • Bush-league 
  • Third-string 
  • Shady
  • Clear as dishwater 
  • Suspicious
  • Dubious
  • Devious
  • Based on rumors 
  • Second rate
  • Dishonest
  • Half baked
  • Disreputable
  • Ill-defined 
  • Out of focus
  • Suspect
  • Based on hearsay 
  • Unscrupulous
  • Fishy
  • Half-hearted 
  • Questionable
  • Casual 
  • Hit or miss 
  • Uninterested
  • Summary
  • Brief
  • Slapdash
  • Depthless 
  • Too few
  • Measly
  • Restricted
  • Open to question
  • Up in the air
  • Up for grabs
  • In doubt
  • Imperfect
  • Roughhewn
  • Makeshift 
  • Unsystematic
  • Crude
  • Found wanting
  • Second fiddle
  • Second-string 
  • Exiguous
  • Sparse 
  • Too small
  • Short of
  • Out of 
  • Unample 
  • Minus
  • Incompetent
  • Incapable
  • Devoid 
  • Bereft
  • Too little too late

Antonyms of Sketchy

  • Detailed 
  • Full
  • Complete
  • Thorough
  • Exhaustive
  • Adequate
  • Careful
  • Enough
  • Finished 
  • Perfect
  • Sufficient 
  • Exhaustive
  • Adequate
  • Careful
  • Enough
  • Omnibus
  • Meticulous
  • Painstaking
  • Wall to wall
  • Definitive
  • Cyclopedic
  • Compendious
  • Global
  • Strict
  • Precise
  • Fastidious
  • Profound
  • In-depth
  • Punctilious
  • Scrupulous
  • All-embracing
  • Well defined
  • Accurate
  • Indisputable
  • Straight
  • Sure
  • Undeniable
  • Incontestable
  • Broad minded 
  • Illimitable
  • Indeterminable
  • Countless
  • Indefinite
  • Reasoned
  • Valid
  • Credible
  • Cogent
  • Satisfying
  • Probable
  • Scholarly 

How Can You Use Sketchy in a Sentence?

Now that you understand what sketchy means, let’s practice using it in a sentence, shall we? 

Here are a few example sentences for you to study below:

“I had to ask my boss for a transfer to another job site; I just could not work with that sketchy dude another day.” 

“Why on earth do you still have that sketchy app on your phone? I mean, come on, the main reason you told me you downloaded it was because allegedly it was ad-free, but clearly, it’s not!” 

“All they have released are honestly a few sketchy details at best, so please tell me— why are you so ready to jump ship?” 

“When all that is required of us is sketch quality, I do all my work in pencil.”

“You know the details of this plan were quite sketchy, and I really do not feel comfortable sending my team down there until specific details are laid out for us.” 

“If you ask me, the details about last week’s accident are just a wee bit sketchy.”

“Becca, this guy is being really sketchy… I think you’re getting cat-fished.”

“The details were pretty much sketchy to nonexistent.”

“I know that there isn’t enough evidence to throw Mr. Miller in jail, but his behavior has been so sketchy lately that he might as well wear a sign saying that he committed the crime.”

“Unfortunately, some cops are sketchy, so you may want to consider installing a camera into your car.”

What Are Translations of the Adjective Sketchy?

Wondering how to say our word of the day in a different language? We’ve got you covered! Common translations of sketchy include: 

  • Afrikaans — sketsagtige
  • Arabic — سطحيه
  • Bulgarian — Непълни
  • Chinese (simplified) — 粗略
  • Croatian — lak
  • Czech — letmý
  • Danish — Fragmentariske
  • American English — sketchy
  • Dutch — Schetsmatig
  • Finnish — luonnosmainen
  • French — sommaire, incomplet, partiel, superficiel 
  • German — skizzenhaft
  • Italian — sommario
  • Greek — Σχηματικό
  • Japanese — 大ざっぱ
  • Korean — 스케치
  • Norwegian — Sketchy
  • Polish — Szkicowy
  • British English — sketchy
  • Portuguese — Esboçado
  • Russian — поверхностный
  • Spanish — abocetado
  • Swedish — skissartad
  • Thai — คร่าวๆ
  • Turkish — Kabataslak
  • Ukrainian — Схематичні
  • Vietnamese — sơ sài


To sum it up, if something is sketchy, it is simply incomplete; while it may include the major points — it lacks those needed and essential details. 

Additionally, if something is sketchy, it can refer to something dubious in nature or even relate to something dangerous — although this is an informal meaning.

We hope this article has provided you with sufficient information to fully understand the meaning behind “sketchy.” If you would like to discover more interesting terms, head on over to our website where you’ll find a wide variety of informative blogs, grammar tools, and more. 


Sketchy Synonyms | Collins English Thesaurus 

SKETCHY: definition | Cambridge English Dictionary 

SKETCHY (adjective) definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary