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  1. characterized by sickly sentimentality; weakly emotional; maudlin.
  2. having a mildly sickening flavor; slightly nauseating.
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Origin of mawkish

1660–70; obsolete mawk maggot (late Middle English < Old Norse mathkr maggot) + -ish1. See maggot
Related formsmawk·ish·ly, adverbmawk·ish·ness, noun

Synonyms for mawkish

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for mawkish

mushy, gooey, sloppy, cloying, sappy, maudlin, teary, feeble, nauseating, romantic, sickening, bathetic, gushy, schmaltzy, gushing, lovey-dovey

Examples from the Web for mawkish

Contemporary Examples of mawkish

Historical Examples of mawkish

  • What a fool, what a weak, mawkish, insipid fool he had made of himself!

    Spring Street

    James H. Richardson

  • For mawkish, sentimental religion the Count had an honest contempt.

  • There was no mawkish sentiment—no melancholy in his make-up.

    Robert Toombs

    Pleasant A. Stovall

  • It's all splendid and barbaric; no mawkish sentiment about it.

    Peking Dust

    Ellen N. La Motte

  • This is no time for trifling, nor for mawkish sentimentality.


    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for mawkish


  1. falsely sentimental, esp in a weak or maudlin way
  2. nauseating or insipid in flavour, smell, etc
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Derived Formsmawkishly, adverbmawkishness, noun

Word Origin for mawkish

C17: from obsolete mawk maggot + -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

Word Origin and History for mawkish


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper