Pronunciation Noun

drab (also attributively)

  1. A fabric, usually of thick cotton or wool, having a dull#Adjective|dull brownish yellow#Noun|yellow, dull grey#Noun|grey, or dun colour#Noun|colour.
    Synonyms: drabcloth
  2. The colour of this fabric.
    • 1868, Louisa M[ay] Alcott, “The Laurence Boy”, in Little Women: Or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, part first, Boston, Mass.: Roberts Brothers, published 1869, OCLC 30743985 ↗, pages 42–43 ↗:
      They looked very well in their simple suits, Meg in silvery drab, with a blue velvet snood, lace frills, and the pearl pin; Jo in maroon, with a stiff, gentlemanly linen collar, and a white chrysanthemum or two for her only ornament.
    • 1920, Carl Sandburg, “The Sins of Kalamazoo”, in Smoke and Steel, New York, N.Y.: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, OCLC 1117522934 ↗, page 49 ↗:
      The sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. / The sins of Kalamazoo are a convict gray, a dishwater drab. / And the people who sin the sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. / They run to drabs and grays—and some of them sing they shall be washed whiter than snow—and some: We should worry.
  3. Often in the glossary plural form drabs: apparel, especially trousers, make#Verb|made from this fabric.
  4. (by extension) A dull or uninteresting appearance or situation.
    • 1867 December 11, Charles Dickens; Wilkie Collins, “No Thoroughfare”, in Charles Dickens, editor, All The Year Round: Extra Christmas Number, London: Chapman & Hall, […], OCLC 541246580 ↗, Act I, page 3 ↗, column 2:
      The slimy little causeway had dropped into the river by a slow process of suicide, and two or three stumps of piles and a rusty iron mooring-ring were all that remained of the departed Break-Neck glories. [...] [T]hrough three-fourths of its rising tides the dirty indecorous drab of a river would come solitarily oozing and lapping at the rusty ring, [...]
Translations Adjective

drab (comparative drabber, superlative drabbest)

  1. Of the colour#Noun|colour of some type#Noun|types of drabcloth: dull#Adjective|dull brownish yellow#Noun|yellow or dun.
    • 1857, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], “[Mr Gilfil’s Love-story.] Chapter II”, in Scenes of Clerical Life [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, published January 1858, OCLC 977572916 ↗, page 190 ↗:
      The coffee presently appeared, brought not as usual by the footman, in scarlet and drab, but by the old butler, in threadbare but well-brushed black, [...]
  2. (by extension) Particularly of colour#Noun|colour: dull#Adjective|dull, uninteresting.
    • 1768, Mr. Yorick [pseudonym; Laurence Sterne], “The Mystery. Paris.”, in A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, volume II, London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, […], OCLC 61680753 ↗, page 104 ↗:
      [T]he man was about fifty-two—had a ſmall cane under his arm—was dreſs'd in a dark drab-colour'd coat, waiſtcoat, and breeches, which ſeem'd to have seen ſome years ſervice—they were ſtill clean, and there was a little air of frugal propretè throughout him.
Translations Noun

drab (plural drabs)

  1. (dated) A dirty or untidy woman; a slattern.
    • 1593, Gabriel Harvey, “Hecuba}} in the art of raving, and inſtruct Tiſiphone herſelfe in her owne gnaſhing language. Other he, or ſhe, drabs of the curſteſt or vengeableſt rankes, are but dipped or dyed in the art; not ſuch a belldam in the whole kingdome of frogges, as thy croking, and moſt clamorous ſelfe.”, in Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse, London: Imprinted by Iohn Wolfe, OCLC 165778203 ↗; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse. A Preparative to Certaine Larger Discourses, Intituled Nashes S. Fame (Miscellaneous Tracts. Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I; no. 8), [London: [s.n.], 1870], OCLC 23963073 ↗, page 150 ↗:
      [C]ertainly thou deſireſt but thy right, that canſt read a rhetorique, or logique lecture to {{w
    • 1607, W. S. [attributed to Thomas Middleton or William Shakespeare (doubtful)], The Pvritaine. Or The VViddovv of Watling-streete. […], imprinted at London: By G[eorge] Eld, OCLC 81461068 ↗, Act I ↗:
      [O]ld Lad of War; thou that were wont to be as hot as a turn-ſpit, as nimble as a fencer, & as lowzy as a ſchoole-maiſter; now thou art put to ſilence like a Secretarie? [...] who are your centinells in peace and ſtand ready charg'd to giue warning; with hems, hums, & pockey-coffs; only your Chambers are licenc'ſt to play vpon you, and Drabs enow to giue fire to 'em.
    • 1871, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XI, in Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, volume I, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 948783829 ↗, book I (Miss Brooke), page 164 ↗:
      Old provincial society had [...] its brilliant young professional dandies who ended by living up an entry with a drab and six children for their establishment, [...]
  2. (dated) A promiscuous woman, a slut; a prostitute#Noun|prostitute.
    Synonyms: Thesaurus:promiscuous woman, Thesaurus:prostitute
    • 1580, Thomas Tusser, “74. A Digression.”, in Fiue Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie: […], imprinted at London: By Henrie Denham [beeing the assigne of William Seres] […], OCLC 837741850 ↗; republished as W[illiam] Payne and Sidney J[ohn Hervon] Herrtage, editors, Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie. […], London: Published for the English Dialect Society by Trübner & Co., […], 1878, OCLC 7391867535 ↗, stanza 4, page 166 ↗:
      Take heed to false harlots, and more, ye wot#English|wot what. / If noise ye heare, / Looke all be cleare: / lest#English|Least drabs doe noy#English|noie thee, / And thieves#English|theeues destroie thee.
    • c. 1602, William Shakespeare, The Famous Historie of Troylus and Cresseid. […] (First Quarto), London: Imprinted by G[eorge] Eld for R[ichard] Bonian and H[enry] Walley, […], published 1609, OCLC 951696502 ↗, [Act V, scene i] ↗, lines 93–95:
      [T]hey ſay hee keepes a Trojan#English|Troyan drab, and uses#English|yſes the traytor Calcas tent, Ile after … —Nothing but letchery all incontinent varlet#English|varlots.
    • 1717, Alexander Pope, “[Satires of Dr. {{w”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume II, London: Printed by W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, […], OCLC 43265629 ↗, lines 63–64, page 49 ↗:
      Curs'd be the Wretch! ſo venal and ſo vain; / Paltry and proud, as drabs in Drury-lane.
  • Russian: проститу́тка

drab (drabs, present participle drabbing; past and past participle drabbed)

  1. (intransitive, obsolete) To consort#Verb|consort with prostitutes; to whore#Verb|whore.
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shake-speare, The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: […] (First Quarto), London: Printed [by Valentine Simmes] for N[icholas] L[ing] and Iohn Trundell, published 1603, OCLC 84758312 ↗, [Act II, scene 1] ↗:
      You may ſay, you ſaw him at ſuch a time, marke you mee, / At game, or drincking, ſwearing, or drabbing, / You may go ſo farre.
    • 1901, [George] Bernard Shaw, “Three Plays for Puritans”, in Three Plays for Puritans: The Devil’s Disciple, Cæsar and Cleopatra, & Captain Brassbound’s Conversion, London: Grant Richards, […], OCLC 122594195 ↗, page xxix ↗:
      Let realism have its demonstration, comedy its criticism, or even bawdry its horselaugh at the expense of sexual infatuation, if it must; but to ask us to subject our souls to its ruinous glamour, to worship it, deify it, and imply that it alone makes our life worth living, is nothing but folly gone mad erotically—a thing compared to which {{w

drab (plural drabs)

  1. A small amount#Noun|amount, especially of money.

drab (plural drabs)

  1. A box#Noun|box used in a saltworks for holding the salt#Noun|salt when taken out of the boiling#Adjective|boiling pan#Noun|pans.

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