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ungainly

[uhn-geyn-lee] /ʌnˈgeɪn li/
adjective, ungainlier, ungainliest.
1.
not graceful; awkward; unwieldy; clumsy:
an ungainly child; an ungainly prose style.
adverb
2.
in an awkward manner.
Origin of ungainly
1150-1200
1150-1200; (adv.) Middle English ungeinliche, equivalent to un- un-1 + later Middle English geyn straight, well-disposed, handy (< Old Norse gegn straight, direct; compare Old Norse ūgegn unreasonable) + -liche -ly; (adj.) un-1 + obsolete gainly proper, becoming, gracious, Middle English gaynlych (geyn as above + -lych -ly); cf. gainly, again
Related forms
ungainliness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ungainly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The animal waddled toward the centre of the circle, short and squat and ungainly.

    White Fang Jack London
  • It was ridiculous and ungainly, lying there on his back with legs sprawling in the air.

    White Fang Jack London
  • Then, from the ungainly hoyden had been evolved this charming, delicate and lovely creature.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • The ungainly little Scot did not leave the Wythburn district.

  • Thousands of ungainly boats, rafts and scows were waiting to be launched.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
British Dictionary definitions for ungainly

ungainly

/ʌnˈɡeɪnlɪ/
adjective -lier, -liest
1.
lacking grace when moving
2.
difficult to move or use; unwieldy
3.
(rare) crude or coarse
adverb
4.
(rare) clumsily
Derived Forms
ungainliness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from un-1 + obsolete or dialect gainly graceful
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 ungainly
adj.

1610s, originally "unfit, improper," from Middle English ungeinliche, from ungein (c.1400) "inconvenient" (from un- (1) "not" + Old Norse gegn "convenient") + -like.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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