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 The first Costa Rican date goes to Sydney and starts with a helicopter ride, but Peter is deemed too clumsy to pilot an aircraft himself on this show ever again. Lia Beck,, "The Bachelor Season 24, Episode 5 Recap: Hey Peter, What Are You Doing?," 4 Feb. 2020 Had Downhill looked halfway competent its shortcomings might not chafe quite so much, but almost every shot feels just a little off, every composition oddly clumsy. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Downhill': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 The battle scene was called clumsy, the costumes were described as dull, and the Sugar Plum Fairy was dissed as chubby (our word, not theirs). Marylou Tousignant, Washington Post, "The ballet debuted in the U.S. 75 years ago and grew to become a holiday tradition.," 2 Dec. 2019 The embattled energy giant has been repeatedly castigated by the public and government leaders for its role in the state’s devastating wildfires the last three years, and for its clumsy attempt at preventing them this fall with mass power outages. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "PG&E and Southern California Edison have turned off power to minimize fires. It hasn't worked. What will?," 1 Nov. 2019 However, the script from Stephen Mazur drags everyone down with its clumsy attempts at both humor and profundity in this pseudo-philosophical pseudo-comedy. Kimber Myers,, "Review: Greg Kinnear’s directing debut, ‘Phil,’ aims high but lands low," 3 July 2019 District attorneys scrambling to respond to clumsy legislative action DPS officials said any variance in arrests is based on direction from local prosecutors. Allie Morris,, "Texas Highway Patrol is releasing some, jailing others who are caught with marijuana," 3 Jan. 2020 But Walker charged forward and clogged Drummond’s lane, forcing him into a clumsy-looking travel., "Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown take control in Celtics rout - The Boston Globe," 21 Dec. 2019 Through the first debates, Buttigieg has faced questions about his handling of a white South Bend police officer's shooting of a black man armed with a knife and of the clumsy rollout in South Carolina of his Douglass Plan to help African Americans. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Front-runners are targeting Pete Buttigieg ahead of the December Democratic debate," 19 Dec. 2019

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

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 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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