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ungainly Line breaks: un|gain¦ly
Pronunciation: /ʌnˈɡeɪnli/

Definition of ungainly in English:


(Of a person or movement) awkward; clumsy: an ungainly walk
More example sentences
  • Not so large that they were ungainly and made him clumsy, but not so small that you would be suspicious of him.
  • I was ungainly and I was bored by sport, which in Australia is a sure sign that you're a bad person.
  • Taylor was always playing catch up against an energetic, ungainly player who just would not lie down.


Mid 17th century: from un-1 'not' + obsolete gainly 'graceful', based on Old Norse gegn 'straight'.

  • uncouth from Old English:

    A word that originally meant ‘unknown’. For much of the history of uncouth, most people would not have used or understood its opposite, couth. This originally meant ‘known’ but was later only used in Scottish English, for ‘kind’ or ‘comfortable’. Uncouth, though, developed a fully independent life. It came to refer to unsophisticated language or style in the late 17th century, and then to uncultured or ill-mannered people or behaviour. In 1896 the English essayist and critic Max Beerbohm ( 1872–1956) was the first to use couth as a deliberate opposite of uncouth meaning ‘cultured, well-mannered’. Ungainly (early 17th century) developed in a similar way. There is a word gainly, but it has never been common and its original meaning, ‘suitable, fitting’, now occurs only in Scottish dialect. Gainly came from the old word gain, which was used especially in the senses ‘kindly’ and ‘convenient’, and is of Scandinavian origin.



Pronunciation: /ʌnˈɡeɪnlɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • How to explain why I find the clunking metaphor of the train charming in its ungainliness?
  • Her miniaturized right arm, with spindly thumb and splayed fingers, seems at once grotesque, vulnerable and oddly lovely; then again, her whole slightly rumpled posture conveys a mix of ungainliness and grace.
  • My point, here, is that our curricula our pedagogies might be energized by the unwieldiness, the ungainliness, of both our current and our earlier historical names, and by our necessary historical revisions of those names.

Words that rhyme with ungainly

ably • maidenly • shapely

Definition of ungainly in:

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