Definition of akimbo in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈkɪmbəʊ/


1With hands on the hips and elbows turned outwards: she stood with arms akimbo, frowning at the small boy
More example sentences
  • She briefly imagined his pose: arms akimbo, hips jutting outward in impatience, thick black brows lowered ominously over angry eyes, mouth set in disapproval.
  • From these imperatives spring the iconographies and situations that animate this suite: the large sitting figure, the figure standing with its arms akimbo, the man lost in a downpour.
  • One client told me that when he asked whether he had been breast-fed, his mother, arms akimbo, warned him off with a glare.
1.1(With reference to limbs) flung out widely or haphazardly: he collapsed on the bed, legs akimbo
More example sentences
  • Dale was in our bedroom, limbs akimbo atop our massive new bed.
  • I would have a great time flailing round to this song, limbs akimbo, mouthing all the words.
  • Several white-sheeted bodies lay on the ground, limbs akimbo, eyes wildly open, with the look and feel of death permeating the surrounding area.


Late Middle English: from in kenebowe in Middle English, probably from Old Norse.

  • You might think that the odd-looking word akimbo, ‘with hands on the hips and elbows turned outwards’, derives from some exotic language. In fact it appeared in medieval English in the form in kenebowe or a kembow and was probably an alteration of an Old Norse phrase meaning ‘bent in a curve, like a horseshoe’.

Words that rhyme with akimbo

bimbo, limbo

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: akimbo

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