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[kluhm-zee] /ˈklʌm zi/
adjective, clumsier, clumsiest.
awkward in movement or action; without skill or grace:
He is very clumsy and is always breaking things.
awkwardly done or made; unwieldy; ill-contrived:
He made a clumsy, embarrassed apology.
1590-1600; clums benumbed with cold (now obsolete) + -y1; akin to Middle English clumsen to be stiff with cold, dialectal Swedish klumsig benumbed, awkward, klums numbskull, Old Norse klumsa lockjaw. See clam2
Related forms
clumsily, adverb
clumsiness, noun
1. ungraceful, ungainly, lumbering, lubberly. 2. unhandy, unskillful, maladroit, inexpert, bungling, bumbling, heavy-handed, inept.
2. adroit, skillful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for clumsiness
  • Many of the symptoms of hypothermia resemble those of a drunken stupor: sleepiness, clumsiness, confusion and even slurred speech.
  • The method's other drawback is its sheer clumsiness.
  • Despite the clumsiness of its tactics, the government's concerns are legitimate.
  • And, showing a mix of lack of sensibility with political clumsiness, she then refused to accept that she had made a mistake.
  • So this so-called clumsiness is seen in his drafts, the way he works on it.
  • clumsiness may reflect a delay in motor development.
  • But this occasional schoolroom clumsiness only draws me closer to you.
  • Teachers' ratings of clumsiness had low correlation with criteria of clumsiness derived from performance tests.
British Dictionary definitions for clumsiness


adjective -sier, -siest
lacking in skill or physical coordination
awkwardly constructed or contrived
Derived Forms
clumsily, adverb
clumsiness, noun
Word Origin
C16 (in obsolete sense: benumbed with cold; hence, awkward): perhaps from C13 dialect clumse to benumb, probably from Scandinavian; compare Swedish dialect klumsig numb
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 clumsiness
1597, from M.E. clumsid "numb with cold," pp. of clumsen "to benumb," from O.N. klumsa, intens. of kluma "to make motionless."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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