Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ropey adj.

also ropy, roupy
[? SE roup, a form of catarrh, orig. a disease of poultry, thence Scot. roupy, husky, hoarse]

1. of an object or person, second-rate, inadequate, unwell, run-down etc.

[UK]T. Morton Way to Get Married in Inchbold (1808) XXV 8: None of your ropy champagne – the real stuff.
[UK] ‘The Two Game Cocks’ in Flash Casket 79: You ropey ould svell.
[UK]J. Labern ‘Receipts for a Cold’ Comic Songs 17: [If] You find your Cold is getting much worse [...] If you feel rather Roupy and your going to sing, / Suck a Shilling’s worth of Eggs, it’s a very fine thing.
[UK]Leics. Chron. 6 Mar. 5/2: ‘Ropy —Beer in a thick, unwholesome state [...] Bread is called ropy when it is in [...] the same state’.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Arrius’ in Punch 26 Dec. 303/1: Arry Stuffy Knees sounds pooty ropy; he’s one of their classickal pets.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 17 June 1/4: By great, immortal half-and-half, / By rancid beer and ropy!
[UK] ‘Tins’ in C.H. Ward-Jackson Airman’s Song Book (1945) 133: One tin to mark the miles with / Along that ropey road.
[Aus]W. Australian (Perth) 30 June 4/6: The prisoners are a pretty ‘ropey’ sort and on the whole their morale is very low indeed.
[UK]C.H. Ward-Jackson Airman’s Song Book 113: If the aircraft is obsolescent, slow or otherwise ‘ropey.’.
[Aus]Cairns Post (Qld) 7 Mar. 4/1: By the end of the month you will have lost two or three stones and look pretty ropey.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 147: Cor crikey ermintrude your pigtails are ropy toda.
[UK]A. Buckeridge Trust Jennings (1989) 97: I’ve heard some pretty ropey wheezes in my time, but that one takes the parchment diploma.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 130: I’d better give her a buzz or she’ll find us here and jump to all kinds of ropy conclusions.
[UK]M. Dibdin Tryst 151: L registration Mini, ropy bodywork, sixty thousand or so on the clock.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 30: They was tryina pull a coupla ropey grunge chicks.
[UK]Indep. 24 Mar. 5: The vast, vast majority is still ropey stuff by kids who can’t play.

2. of a person, unpopular.

[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. (2nd edn).
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 238/1: ropey – unpopular, or sometimes, angry.