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See more synonyms for mawkish on Thesaurus.com
  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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged 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.

British Dictionary definitions for mawkishness


  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

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 mawkishness



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