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or unwieldly

[uhn-weel-dee] /ʌnˈwil di/
adjective, unwieldier, unwieldiest.
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
1350-1400; Middle English unweldy. See un-1, wieldy
Related forms
unwieldily, adverb
unwieldiness, noun
bulky, unmanageable, clumsy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for unwieldly
Historical Examples
  • 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
  • Fluff had left them; she was engaged in an eager game of play with an overgrown and unwieldly pup and a Persian kitten.

  • 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
  • At length we stopped, and the chief raised up a thick, heavy mat which hung like an unwieldly curtain in front of a doorway.

  • 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.

    Letters of Edward FitzGerald Edward FitzGerald
  • The Professor, as I remembered him, had an elephantine sense of humour capable of the most clumsy and unwieldly gambollings.

    The Poison Belt Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The cable used in crossing the unwieldly flat had long been submerged and the posts which held it wrenched from their fastenings.

    At Fault Kate Chopin.
  • This sent him reeling against the wall, where he felt the muscles of an unwieldly arm tighten about his neck.

    Wild Oranges Joseph Hergesheimer
British Dictionary definitions for unwieldly


too heavy, large, or awkwardly shaped to be easily handled
ungainly; clumsy
Derived Forms
unwieldily, unwieldlily, adverb
unwieldiness, 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
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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
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