• synonyms


or un·wield·ly

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adjective, un·wield·i·er, un·wield·i·est.
  1. not wieldy; wielded with difficulty; not readily handled or managed in use or action, as from size, shape, or weight; awkward; ungainly.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for unwieldy



  1. too heavy, large, or awkwardly shaped to be easily handled
  2. ungainly; clumsy
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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 unwieldy


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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper