[ uhn-geyn-lee ]
/ ʌnˈgeɪn li /

adjective, un·gain·li·er, un·gain·li·est.

not graceful; awkward; unwieldy; clumsy: an ungainly child; an ungainly prose style.


in an awkward manner.

Nearby words

  1. unfunny,
  2. unfurl,
  3. unfurnished,
  4. unfussy,
  5. ung.,
  6. ungaretti,
  7. ungava,
  8. ungava bay,
  9. ungava peninsula,
  10. ungenerous

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for ungainly

British Dictionary definitions for ungainly


/ (ʌnˈɡeɪnlɪ) /

adjective -lier or -liest

lacking grace when moving
difficult to move or use; unwieldy
rare crude or coarse


rare clumsily
Derived Formsungainliness, noun

Word Origin for ungainly

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



1610s, originally "unfit, improper," from Middle English ungeinliche, from ungein (c.1400) "inconvenient" (from un- (1) "not" + Old Norse gegn "convenient") + -like.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper