E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
properly means the flue and fluff thrown off from cloth in the process of weaving. This flue, being mixed with new wool, is woven into a cloth called shoddyi.e. cloth made of the flue shod or thrown off. Shoddy is also made of old garments torn up and re-spun. The term is used for any loose, sleazy cloth, and metaphorically for literature of an inferior character compiled from other works. (Shed, provincial pret. shod; shoot, obsolete pret. shotten.)
Shoddy characters. Persons of tarnished reputation, like cloth made of shoddy or refuse wool.