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 Just a clumsy elbow bump and a few worlds of small talk. oregonlive, "Canzano: We don’t have sports, but we have each other," 12 Apr. 2020 There is a non-functional air scoop along the body sides and a clumsy, protruding grill between the single headlamps. Car and Driver, "Tested: 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang," 17 Apr. 2020 For the most part, Donald Trump’s attempts to tie the crisis to other parts of his agenda have been as clumsy and inept as the Administration’s response to the crisis itself. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Pandemic Intensifies the Fight Over Voting Rights," 7 Apr. 2020 The suspense element is just plain clumsy, as Majeed finds himself in an awkward position after supplying names that lead to a roundup resulting in the detainment of innocent men. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'I'll Meet You There': Film Review | SXSW 2020," 20 Mar. 2020 The foot tap seems clumsy, especially in high heels. Karina Bland, azcentral, "Elbow bumps, foot taps, jazz hands? Amid coronavirus, how to replace the human hug," 11 Mar. 2020 Bari Weiss got called out for clumsy, appropriative ethnic rhetoric, and the Times was lambasted for having climate change denier Bret Stephens on staff. Nathaniel Friedman, The New Republic, "Moments Without Truth," 21 Oct. 2019 Some clumsy defending from Andreas Christensen allowed Alexander-Arnold the opportunity to score the first goal, while Alonso - on for Emerson after 15 minutes - was posted missing as Firmino nodded in the second., "Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Reds Edge Tight Game at Stamford Bridge," 22 Sep. 2019 There are no clumsy expository scenes of men and women in white lab coats trying to convince the audience that such a thing is possible. Mike Scott,, "'Mom and Dad' movie review: Nicholas Cage has gone insane," 17 Jan. 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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Time Traveler for clumsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

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Statistics for clumsy

Last Updated

19 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for clumsy


How to pronounce clumsy (audio)

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


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

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