Simple Definition of akimbo
of the arms : with the hands on the hips and the elbows turned outward
of the legs : spread apart in a bent position
Full Definition of akimbo
1 : having the hand on the hip and the elbow turned outward
2 : set in a bent position <a tailor sitting with legs akimbo>
Did You Know?
It's "akimbo" nowadays, but in Middle English, the spelling "in kenebowe" was used for the bent, hand-on-hip arm (or later, for any bent position). Originally, the term was fairly neutral, but now saying that a person is standing with "arms akimbo" implies a posture that communicates defiance, confidence, aggressiveness, or arrogance. In her novel Little Women, Louisa May Alcott took the word one step further, extending it into the figurative realm when she explained that tomboyish Jo had not been invited to participate in an elegant event with the other young ladies of the neighborhood because "her elbows were decidedly akimbo at this period of her life."
Origin and Etymology of akimbo
Middle English in kenebowe
First Known Use: 15th century
AKIMBO Defined for Kids
Definition of akimbo for Students
1 : with the hands on the hips and the elbows turned outward <She stood with arms akimbo.>
2 : set in a bent position <He sat with legs akimbo.>
Seen and Heard
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