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[maw-kish] /ˈmɔ kɪʃ/
characterized by sickly sentimentality; weakly emotional; maudlin.
having a mildly sickening flavor; slightly nauseating.
Origin of mawkish
late Middle English
1660-70; obsolete mawk maggot (late Middle English < Old Norse mathkr maggot) + -ish1. See maggot
Related forms
mawkishly, adverb
mawkishness, noun
1. sentimental, teary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mawkishness
Historical Examples
  • The mawkishness of the sentiment was only surpassed by the feebleness of the style.

    A Book for All Readers Ainsworth Rand Spofford
  • In this expectancy of death there is no mawkishness, no pose.

    Comrade Kropotkin Victor Robinson
  • There is nothing in it of the mawkishness of Kelly nor of the pompous affectation of Cumberland.

  • She was told that it bored him to play the lover; that his misconduct was her fault; and then she was accused of mawkishness!

    The Bertrams

    Anthony Trollope
  • In such a shape the patriotic instinct may tend in natures weaker than Bolingbroke's to mawkishness or sentimentality.

  • Dickens's sentiment seldom rings perfectly true; too often it is sharped to flippancy, or flatted to mawkishness.

    Washington Irving Henry W. Boynton
  • His Endymion, 1818, though disfigured by mawkishness and by some affectations of manner, was rich in promise.

    From Chaucer to Tennyson

    Henry A. Beers
  • If you deny them to the latter, all you get is poverty of ideas, and morbidity, and mawkishness.

  • The ladies, watching him, seemed by their eyes to condone the mawkishness of the demonstration which had tempted him.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • In the Bible the beauty of women is frankly spoken of without prudery or mawkishness as an influence in human affairs.

British Dictionary definitions for mawkishness


falsely sentimental, esp in a weak or maudlin way
nauseating or insipid in flavour, smell, etc
Derived Forms
mawkishly, adverb
mawkishness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from obsolete mawkmaggot + -ish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mawkishness



1660s, "sickly, nauseated," from Middle English mawke "maggot" (see maggot). Sense of "sickly sentimental" is first recorded 1702. Related: Mawkishly; mawkishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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