Simple Definition of ungainly
: moving in an awkward or clumsy way : not graceful
Examples of ungainly in a sentence
He was tall and ungainly.
<getting the ungainly couch up the stairs was a real chore>
Did You Know?
What do you have to gain by knowing the root of "ungainly?" Plenty. The "gain" in "ungainly" is an obsolete English adjective meaning "direct," ultimately derived from the Old Norse preposition gegn, meaning "against." (The unrelated verb "gain" came to English by way of Anglo-French and is related to an Old High German word meaning "to hunt for food.") "Ungainly" can describe someone who’s clumsy (as in "a tall and ungainly man"), or something that causes you to feel clumsy when you try to handle it (as in "a car with ungainly controls"), or something that simply looks awkward and out of place (as in "an ungainly strip mall").
Origin of ungainly
obsolete gain direct, from Middle English gayn, geyn, from Old English gēn, from Old Norse gegn, from gegn, preposition, against; akin to Old English gēan- against — more at again
First Known Use: 1611
UNGAINLY Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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