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ungainly

[uhn-geyn-lee]
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adjective, un·gain·li·er, un·gain·li·est.
  1. not graceful; awkward; unwieldy; clumsy: an ungainly child; an ungainly prose style.
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adverb
  1. in an awkward manner.
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Origin of ungainly

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 formsun·gain·li·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

adjective -lier or -liest
  1. lacking grace when moving
  2. difficult to move or use; unwieldy
  3. rare crude or coarse
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adverb
  1. rare clumsily
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Derived Formsungainliness, 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper