or un·wield·ly


adjective, un·wield·i·er, un·wield·i·est.

not wieldy; wielded with difficulty; not readily handled or managed in use or action, as from size, shape, or weight; awkward; ungainly.

Origin of unwieldy

First recorded in 1350–1400, unwieldy is from the Middle English word unweldy. See un-1, wieldy
Related formsun·wield·i·ly, adverbun·wield·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for unwieldy

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unwieldly

Historical Examples of unwieldly

  • It was very sharp, but its weight would have been unwieldly for a slight man.

    Ulric the Jarl

    William O. Stoddard

  • He was a big, fat, unwieldly person, but he pursued the fugitive vigorously.

    Bound to Succeed

    Allen Chapman

  • Like some ghostly bride he stumbled up through the lurid night, dragging the unwieldly train behind him.

    Tom Slade at Temple Camp

    Percy K. Fitzhugh

  • Paul darted, as quickly as his unwieldly bulk would allow, into the middle of the street.

    Boyhood in Norway

    Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen

  • This may be: though I think Russia is too unwieldly and rotten-ripe ever to make a huge progress in conquest.

British Dictionary definitions for unwieldly




too heavy, large, or awkwardly shaped to be easily handled
ungainly; clumsy
Derived Formsunwieldily or unwieldlily, adverbunwieldiness or unwieldliness, 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 unwieldly



late 14c., "lacking strength," from un- (1) "not" + Old English wielde "active, vigorous," from Proto-Germanic *walth- "have power" (see wield). Meaning "moving ungracefully" is recorded from 1520s; in reference to weapons, "difficult to handle, awkward by virtue of size or shape" it is attested from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper