Etymology
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flimsy (adj.)
1702, of unknown origin, perhaps a metathesis of film (n.) "gauzy covering" + -y (2). Figuratively (of arguments, etc.) from 1750s. Related: Flimsily; flimsiness.
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clumsy (adj.)

1590s, "acting or moving as if benumbed," alteration of Middle English clumsid "numb with cold" (14c.), past participle of clumsen, clomsen "to benumb, stiffen or paralyze with cold or fear" (early 14c.), also "become numb or stiff, as with cold" (late 14c.), which is from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse klumsa "make speechless, palsy; prevent from speaking," intensive of kluma "to make motionless." For insertion of -s-, see flimsy.

Not in general use until 18c., with senses "manifesting awkwardness; so made as to be unwieldy." Related: Clumsily; clumsiness. Also compare Swedish dialectal klumsen (adj.) "benumbed with cold," Norwegian klumsad (past participle) "speechless, palsied by a spasm or by fear or witchery;" German verklammen "grow stiff or numb with cold." Also compare clumse (n.) "a stupid fellow."

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limpsy (adj.)

also limsy, 1825, a colloquial New England form of limp (adj.). For the formation, compare cutesy, drowsy, flimsy, tricksy, tipsy.

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chiffonier (n.)

"small cabinet with drawers for women's needlework, cloth, etc.," 1806, from French chiffonnier, a transferred use, literally "rag gatherer," from chiffon, diminutive of chiffe "rag, piece of cloth, scrap, flimsy stuff" (see chiffon).

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tipsy (adj.)
1570s, from tip (v.1); compare drowsy, flimsy, tricksy. Later associated with tipple. Tipsy-cake (1806) was stale cake saturated with wine or liquor.
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sketchy (adj.)
1805, "having the form or character of a sketch," from sketch (n.) + -y (2). Colloquial sense of "unsubstantial, imperfect, flimsy" is from 1878, perhaps via the notion of "unfinished." Related: Sketchily; sketchiness.
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paper (adj.)

1590s, "made of paper, consisting of paper," from paper (n.). Figurative of something flimsy or unsubstantial from 1716, probably on the notion of "appearing merely in written or printed statements, not tangible or existing in reality." Paper tiger (1952) translates Chinese tsuh lao fu, popularized by Mao Zedong. Paper doll is attested by 1817; paper plate "disposable plate made of paper or cardboard" is from 1723. Paper money is from 1690s.

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bandbox (n.)
"light box of pasteboard or thin wood, originally made to hold the starched bands worn as collars in 17c. men's and women's dress, 1630s, from band (n.1) + box (n.1). Later used for other light articles of attire, but the name stuck. Typical of something fragile and flimsy, but it also was figurative of smallness and of neat, clean condition.
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spare (adj.)
"kept in reserve, not used, provided or held for extra need," late 14c., from or from the same root as spare (v.). Old English had spær "sparing, frugal." Also compare Old Norse sparr "(to be) spared." In reference to time, from mid-15c.; sense of "lacking in substance; lean, gaunt; flimsy, thin; poor," is recorded from 1540s. Spare part is attested from 1888. Spare tire is from 1894 of bicycles; 1903 of automobiles; 1961 of waistlines.
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airy (adj.)

late 14c., "of the air, containing air, made of air," from air (n.1) + -y (2).

The meanings "breezy, exposed to the air, open to currents of air; lofty, high; light, buoyant; flimsy; flippant, jaunty, affectedly lofty; vain; unreal" all are attested by late 16c. From 1620s as "done in the air;" 1640s as "sprightly, light in movement;" 1660s as "visionary, speculative." Disparaging airy-fairy "unrealistic, fanciful" is attested from 1920 (earlier in a sense of "delicate or light as a fairy," which is how Tennyson used it in 1830).

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