[uhn-tawrd, -tohrd]


unfavorable or unfortunate: Untoward circumstances forced him into bankruptcy.
improper: untoward social behavior.
Archaic. froward; perverse.

Origin of untoward

First recorded in 1520–30; un-1 + toward
Related formsun·to·ward·ly, adverbun·to·ward·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for untoward

Contemporary Examples of untoward

Historical Examples of untoward

  • He would not have been a Briton if these untoward combinations of events had not made him surly.

  • It would take only an untoward word, a false movement, to start a massacre.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • He thought not at all of the untoward fortune that had placed him where he stood.

  • Had she been commissioned to tell him of some untoward event?

    We Two

    Edna Lyall

  • Truly it is untoward, but I wish, my dear aunt, you would not let it trouble you so much.

    Fairy Fingers

    Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie

British Dictionary definitions for untoward



characterized by misfortune, disaster, or annoyance
not auspicious; adverse; unfavourable
unseemly or improper
out of the ordinary; out of the way
archaic refractory; perverse
obsolete awkward, ungainly, or uncouth
Derived Formsuntowardly, adverbuntowardness, 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

Word Origin and History for untoward

1520s, "not having inclination" (to or for something), also "difficult to manage, unruly," from un- (1) "not" + toward.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper