adjective, adverb

with hand on hip and elbow bent outward: to stand with arms akimbo.

Origin of akimbo

1375–1425; late Middle English in kenebowe < Old Norse *i keng boginn bent into a crook (i in, keng accusative of kengr hook, boginn past participle of bjūga to bend)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for akimbo

Historical Examples of akimbo

  • She was holding up her skirt with one hand, and the other arm was akimbo at her waist.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Her arms were akimbo and a pipe was thrust between her teeth.

    The Black Pearl

    Mrs. Wilson Woodrow

  • Akimbo, a-kim′bo, adj. with hand on hip and elbow bent outward.

  • She walked slowly, the long black dress she always wore trailing after her, yet half-looped up over one arm, akimbo on her hip.

    Mrs. Severn, Vol. 1 (of 3)

    Mary Elizabeth Carter

  • His arms were akimbo, his feet planted as firmly as if he were a particularly stubborn brand of tree.

    Pagan Passions

    Gordon Randall Garrett

British Dictionary definitions for akimbo


adjective, adverb

arms akimbo or with arms akimbo with hands on hips and elbows projecting outwards

Word Origin for akimbo

C15 in kenebowe, literally: in keen bow, that is, in a sharp curve
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

Word Origin and History for akimbo

c.1400, in kenebowe, of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle English phrase in keen bow "at a sharp angle," or from a Scandinavian word akin to Icelandic kengboginn "bow-bent," but this seems not to have been used in this exact sense. Many languages use a teapot metaphor for this, such as French faire le pot a deux anses "to play the pot with two handles."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper