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[uh-kim-boh] /əˈkɪm boʊ/
adjective, adverb
with hand on hip and elbow bent outward:
to stand with arms akimbo.
Origin of akimbo
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English in kenebowe < Old Norse *i keng boginn bent into a crook (i in, keng accusative of kengr hook, boginn past participle of bjūga to bend) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for akimbo
Historical Examples
  • She was an uncommonly powerful, red-faced Irishwoman; her arms were bare, and she had them akimbo, and was scratching her elbows.

    Ravenshoe Henry Kingsley
  • She was holding up her skirt with one hand, and the other arm was akimbo at her waist.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • akimbo, a-kim′bo, adj. with hand on hip and elbow bent outward.

  • Her arms were akimbo and a pipe was thrust between her teeth.

    The Black Pearl Mrs. Wilson Woodrow
  • His arms were akimbo, his feet planted as firmly as if he were a particularly stubborn brand of tree.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • She walked slowly, the long black dress she always wore trailing after her, yet half-looped up over one arm, akimbo on her hip.

    Mrs. Severn, Vol. 1 (of 3) Mary Elizabeth Carter
British Dictionary definitions for akimbo


adjective, adverb
arms akimbo, with arms akimbo, with hands on hips and elbows projecting outwards
Word Origin
C15 in kenebowe, literally: in keen bow, that is, in a sharp curve
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
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Word Origin and History for akimbo

c.1400, in kenebowe, of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle English phrase in keen bow "at a sharp angle," or from a Scandinavian word akin to Icelandic kengboginn "bow-bent," but this seems not to have been used in this exact sense. Many languages use a teapot metaphor for this, such as French faire le pot a deux anses "to play the pot with two handles."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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