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[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.
Also, unwieldly.
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 unwieldy
  • Bar soap is a convenient option for the bathroom, but when a bar gets to be too small, it becomes unwieldy and inconvenient.
  • Now the agency has decided that things were a bit unwieldy and it is reorganizing the seven departments into three divisions.
  • Scholars who are familiar with such citations agree that the current formats remain unwieldy.
  • German spelling does need overhauling: over the decades, it has grown more unwieldy.
  • The trouble with that process is that it could prove unwieldy.
  • But as a whole, the unit felt unwieldy and difficult to maneuver.
  • Mine seems particularly egregious, although it has the same unwieldy construction as the rest of its species.
  • Others suggest that the aim is to ensure the election of a weak, unwieldy parliament.
  • We only used rear ones, and my mountain bike felt unwieldy and heavy to me.
  • And if unwed females become too unwieldy they're more likely to get knocked off during a good grooming.
British Dictionary definitions for unwieldy


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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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