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Date: Nov 22 2007

Themes: Pop Culture


1. Quote - Listen to the quote and guess what the slang means.

“Valentino was very, very young when so much of the book took place. His memories were spotty.”

- Writer Dave Eggers on his source for his book, What is the What. (Entertainment Weekly)


1. Definition - Study the definition.

incomplete; of poor or questionable quality

2. Use - Learn how the slang is used.

Of course, when you think of something spotty, you think of something covered in spots of color, like a dalmation or a leopard.

But the most common us of the word spotty is to describe something that isn’t whole or isn’t very good. If you don’t know a lot of the words on this page, you could say your English is a bit spotty.

Or if you think this lesson isn’t so great, but that it’s kind of useful, you could say it’s spotty. You wouldn’t say that something is spotty if you think it’s really bad. Spotty means that something isn’t good, but there is still some value in it.

Dave Eggers has been one of the most well-known writers in America ever since his 2000 book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. A few years ago, he decided to write the life-story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee.

Like most people, Valentino can’t remember parts of his life very clearly. He also saw a lot of war in his youth and it’s often difficult to remember horrible things.

So when Dave Eggers began talking to Valentino about his past, he discovered that the young man’s memories were spotty. So Eggers filled in the parts Valentino couldn’t remember with fiction. He took spotty memories and made them into a complete, solid story.


1. Examples - Hear some example sentences.

“My knowledge of the geography of this area is rather spotty. You might want to ask someone else for directions.”

“His performances can be a little spotty. Parts of them good, but they get dull at times.”


1. Winners - See who guessed the slang definition correctly.

Something that comes like flashes, not very clear. Most of the memories of a car accident are spotty, because you brain has been affected and your memories are incomplete. The memories about dreams are also likely to be spotty.
by renato.moura.b
"His memories were spotty" means that he didn't remember everything well but the fragments of what happened.
by Gregory Markaryan
erratic, uneven
by irenevinci
lacking consistency; "the golfer hit the ball well but his putting was spotty"
by morres
GavinZheng uneven,unconsistent,things like that.
by GavinZheng
lacking consistency or regularity in quality or performance that what the word in that text means and it also means patchy uneven unsteady variable.....
by wael_elhlimi
by periwinkle.chic
babyxiao lacking consistency
by babyxiao
spotty means lacking consistency or uneven
by scholas3
Darlene incomplete, not totally correct or valid.
by Darlene
good in some parts, but not in others; not complete
by lcmwyc
Spotty means not clear, not definite. He remember parts but not all
by fox234234
lauraxxz "Spotty" suggests that the memories are not continous and clear. They reveal flashes.
by lauraxxz
vague...blurred.. only of remembering small parts or pieces of a situation
by carlos alvarez
m@nuelm@d diffuse, vague, irregular, not clear.
by m@nuelm@d
masoyama good only in some parts, but not in other parts
by masoyama
- something fragmentary, incomplete; something not consecutive, not successive. "spotty memories" could be those full of gaps or very dim, vague, not vivid.
by Medlyashik
it means that not very much clear but in small pieces.
by neelofer
spotty mean is: not complete or good in same parts but not others
by s.g
by simonaputinelu
He doesn't remeber well only this and those facts
by Lennchik
He only remembered few things
by LO
it means that his memories is not clear and intermittent.
by mahadavikia
spotty means fragmentary or incomplete.
by sirk
immajin He couldn't remember everything. There were white spots in his memory.
by immajin

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Log in to Comment




My English is rather bookish and my knowledge of slang is spotty. But I’m working on it

10:42 AM Jan 08 2016 |




can i say for example” she is spotty”? i mean she is not beauty but ofcourse is not bad.

04:19 AM Nov 16 2013 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

do wana try out to kill her after killing her rest assurd your life be spotty!

09:51 PM Sep 06 2012 |




not ideal

05:33 PM Sep 06 2012 |



Saudi Arabia

some time my dreams kind of spotty :)

09:39 PM Jul 29 2010 |




Your report is a bit spotty.

06:07 AM Mar 05 2010 |



Well First off thanks a million to Englishbaby site for that useful slang. I am still the one who is trying to improve my English every single day coz I don't want my English spotty but just want to be perfect in it. Well after finding out englishbaby site I discovered that my slang of knowledy is not spotty like before. Thanks a lot !

09:12 AM Oct 31 2009 |




my life spotty without you

06:43 AM Oct 15 2009 |




Can’t seem to remember much about you. If I were a dog, I’d be a dalmatian!

04:42 PM Nov 28 2007 |


Christmas Island

hello knowing you is not spotty.

03:38 PM Nov 26 2007 |

Pink Angel

Pink Angel

Saudi Arabia

spotty..<<ll try to join u guys in more lessons

06:43 AM Nov 26 2007 |



i´m pleased to join to this english group to improve my english in order to it isn´t so spotty

11:48 PM Nov 25 2007 |



his memory is spotty. my english too

06:58 PM Nov 25 2007 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

my English is a bit spotty

06:44 AM Nov 25 2007 |




I want my girlfriend who is no any spotty.

04:01 AM Nov 24 2007 |



this commentary is vrry spotty.

10:50 PM Nov 23 2007 |




Hello friend rescien acobo to join this space good ayudenme mmm

05:12 PM Nov 23 2007 |



Cheap goods are often spotty.

04:55 PM Nov 23 2007 |




cool !!!

04:48 PM Nov 23 2007 |


Burkina Faso

This lesson is my first.i hope my english won’t be spotty anymore.

02:02 PM Nov 23 2007 |

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