[ kluhm-zee ]
See synonyms for: clumsyclumsilyclumsiness on

adjective,clum·si·er, clum·si·est.
  1. awkward in movement or action; without skill or grace: He is very clumsy and is always breaking things.

  2. awkwardly done or made; unwieldy; ill-contrived: He made a clumsy, embarrassed apology.

Origin of clumsy

1590–1600; clums benumbed with cold (now obsolete) + -y1; akin to Middle English clumsen to be stiff with cold, dialectal Swedish klumsig benumbed, awkward, klums numbskull, Old Norse klumsa lockjaw. See clam2

Other words for clumsy

Opposites for clumsy

Other words from clumsy

  • clum·si·ly, adverb
  • clum·si·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use clumsy in a sentence

  • Talpers sought to detain him, but the Chinese hurried back to his old white horse and climbed clumsily into the saddle.

    Mystery Ranch | Arthur Chapman
  • Meanwhile the old lady climbed not without difficulty up the rough, clumsily built staircase, with a rope by way of a hand-rail.

    An Episode Under the Terror | Honore de Balzac
  • Before she could answer, he had actually blushed, wheeled clumsily, and gone hastily back.

    The Woman Gives | Owen Johnson
  • He took the battered volume—a pamphlet clumsily encased in boards, and drew his hand across its rough sides caressingly.

    A Hoosier Chronicle | Meredith Nicholson
  • Astonished at the splendor of her diamonds, he had in his own court clumsily asked if they were all real.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte | William Milligan Sloane

British Dictionary definitions for clumsy


/ (ˈklʌmzɪ) /

adjective-sier or -siest
  1. lacking in skill or physical coordination

  2. awkwardly constructed or contrived

Origin of clumsy

C16 (in obsolete sense: benumbed with cold; hence, awkward): perhaps from C13 dialect clumse to benumb, probably from Scandinavian; compare Swedish dialect klumsig numb

Derived forms of clumsy

  • clumsily, adverb
  • clumsiness, noun

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