clumsy

adjective
clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Definition of clumsy

1a : lacking dexterity, nimbleness, or grace clumsy fingers
b : lacking tact or subtlety a clumsy joke
2 : awkward or inefficient in use or construction : unwieldy a clumsy contraption criticized her sentence for its clumsy construction

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Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ ˈkləm-​zə-​lē How to pronounce clumsily (audio) \ adverb
clumsiness \ ˈkləm-​zē-​nəs How to pronounce clumsiness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clumsy

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of clumsy in a Sentence

I'm sorry about spilling your wine—that was very clumsy of me. I have very clumsy hands and tend to drop things. She made a clumsy attempt at a joke.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Sadly, those beautiful blooms sometimes get trampled by overzealous, or just clumsy, photo-takers. Kim Fu, The Mercury News, "Dixon farmers angered by sunflower selfies," 8 July 2019 Leon, based on Saunders’ brother, is shy and clumsy, so Eve enrolls him in ballet classes as a child; Rene, who is based on the author, soon follows. Jennifer Day, chicagotribune.com, "A Midwestern experience: Paula Saunders reflects on 'The Distance Home'," 6 June 2019 Trying to examine Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship, our definitions like adaptation or rewrite become faintly anachronistic, or clumsy. Adam Thirlwell, The New York Review of Books, "Adam Thirlwell," 25 Oct. 2018 This clumsy and confusing media player has needed killing for years. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, "For iTunes, a long-needed reorganization," 10 June 2019 And the risk of a clumsy mistake that triggers a financial panic is high. The Economist, "America is deploying a new economic arsenal to assert its power," 6 June 2019 You have been instructed to remove the clumsy black mortarboard at this point in the commencement ceremony. Joyce Carol Oates, Harper's magazine, "The Unexpected," 10 May 2019 And none of us would complain if Honda obsessed over a better solution than the 10-speed automatic's clumsy shift buttons. Car and Driver, "2019 10Best Cars," 28 Nov. 2018 Oliver awarded Real a penalty in the 93rd minute at the Santiago Bernabeu, after Juve defender Mehdi Benatia brought down Lucas Vazquez with a clumsy challenge from behind. Thomas Allnutt, chicagotribune.com, "Buffon: referee Oliver 'has garbage bag instead of heart'," 11 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clumsy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clumsy

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clumsy

probably from obsolete English clumse benumbed with cold

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Statistics for clumsy

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clumsy

The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

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More Definitions for clumsy

clumsy

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of clumsy

: moving or doing things in a very awkward way and tending to drop or break things
: badly or awkwardly made or done
: hard to use : awkward to handle

clumsy

adjective
clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Kids Definition of clumsy

1 : lacking skill or grace in movement clumsy fingers
2 : awkwardly or carelessly made or done a clumsy apology a clumsy error
3 : awkward to handle a clumsy package

Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ -​zə-​lē \ adverb
clumsiness \ -​zē-​nəs \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on clumsy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clumsy

Spanish Central: Translation of clumsy

Nglish: Translation of clumsy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clumsy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on clumsy

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