Word of the Day : Ungainlyplay


adjective un-GAYN-lee

What It Means

Ungainly usually describes someone or something moving in an awkward or clumsy way, or the awkward, clumsy movements themselves. It can also describe an object that is difficult to handle (especially because of being large or heavy), or someone or something that has an awkward appearance.

// While seals are ungainly on land, they are beautifully agile swimmers.

// Getting the ungainly couch up the stairs was a real chore.

// The creature is large and ungainly.

UNGAINLY in Context

“[Composer, Gioachino] Rossini, who was just 25 at the time, and his librettist Jacopo Feretti turned this ‘Cinderella’ into a comedy. It contains all kinds of farcical elements, including hidden identities and the wonderfully exaggerated stepsisters, who are delightfully mean, self-involved and ungainly.” — Kyle MacMillan, The Chicago Sun Times, 22 Jan. 2024

Did You Know?

What do you have to gain by knowing the root of ungainly? Plenty. The gain in ungainly is an obsolete English adjective meaning “direct” that ultimately comes from the Old Norse preposition gegn, meaning “against.” (It is unrelated to the noun in “economic gains” or the verb in “gain an advantage”; those came to English by way of Anglo-French.) Ungainly can describe someone who is clumsy, as in “a tall, ungainly man”; or something that causes you to feel clumsy when you try to handle it, as in “a car with ungainly controls”; or something that simply looks awkward and out of place, as in “an ungainly strip mall.”

Merriam Webster Dictionary

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