Definition of akimbo
- a tailor sitting with legs akimbo
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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."
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
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