Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

untoward

play
adjective un·to·ward \ˌən-ˈtō-ərd, -ˈtȯ(-ə)rd; ˌən-tə-ˈwȯrd\

Simple Definition of untoward

  • : bad or unfavorable : not good

  • : not proper or appropriate

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of untoward

  1. 1 :  difficult to guide, manage, or work with :  unruly, intractable

  2. 2 a :  marked by trouble or unhappiness :  unlucky b :  not favorable :  adverse, unpropitious <untoward side effects>

  3. 3 :  improper, indecorous

untowardly adverb
untowardness noun

Examples of untoward in a sentence

  1. There was nothing untoward about his appearance.

  2. <tried to reason with the untoward child>



Did You Know?

More than 700 years ago, English speakers began using the word toward for forward-moving youngsters, the kind who showed promise and were open to listening to their elders. After about 150 years, the use was broadened somewhat to mean simply docile or obliging. The opposite of this toward is froward, meaning "perverse" or "ungovernable." Today, froward has fallen out of common use, and the cooperative sense of toward is downright obsolete, but the newcomer to this series - untoward - has kept its toehold. Untoward first showed up in the 1400s, and it is still used, just as it was then, as a synonym of unruly, though it has since acquired other meanings as well.

15th Century

First Known Use of untoward

15th century


UNTOWARD Defined for Kids

untoward

play
adjective un·to·ward \ˌən-ˈtō-ərd\

Definition of untoward for Students

  1. :  unexpected and unpleasant or improper <Perhaps there was sickness in the temple, or some other untoward event … — Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up untoward? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to eat gluttonously or ravenously

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1926873504

Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?

superficial gregarious flashy tetchy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ