What is the origin of akimbo?
The origin of English akimbo is disputed. The various Middle English spellings include in kenebowe, a kenbow, on kenbow, a canne-bow…. The Middle English forms look like a prepositional phrase composed of in or on (reduced to a) and another word (or other words) of uncertain origin and meaning. Some authorities consider the rest of the phrase to be native English words meaning “(a) sharp angle,” with keen in the sense of “sharp” and bow in the sense of “angle, bow” (as in elbow). Others consider the source to be Old Norse í keng boginn “bent in a bow or curve,” but the sense “with hand on hip and elbow bent outward” does not occur in Old Norse or Icelandic; yet others go to Old French chane, kane, quenne “pitcher, jug, flagon” and English bow “handle.” Akimbo entered English in the 15th century.