in·​con·​gru·​ous | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs How to pronounce incongruous (audio) \

Definition of incongruous

: lacking congruity: such as
a : not harmonious : incompatible incongruous colors
b : not conforming : disagreeing conduct incongruous with principle
c : inconsistent within itself an incongruous story
d : lacking propriety : unsuitable incongruous manners

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Other Words from incongruous

incongruously adverb
incongruousness noun

Did You Know?

Incongruous is a spin-off of its antonym, congruous, which means "in agreement, harmony, or correspondence." Etymologists are in agreement about the origin of both words; they trace to the Latin verb congruere, which means "to come together" or "to agree." The dates of the words' first uses in English match up pretty well, too. The first known use of congruous dates from 1599, and the earliest print appearance of incongruous dates from 1611.

Examples of incongruous in a Sentence

There is something incongruous about Oslo. — Hugh C. McDonald, The Hour of the Blue Fox, 1975 … it would be as incongruous to meet her at the end of a chapter as it would be to see the dawn break in the west … — Herman Wouk, Aurora Dawn, 1947 He ate enormously, with a zest which seemed incongruous with his spare frame. — Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark, 1915 His outburst seemed incongruous to those who know him well. there's an incongruous modernism to the actor's performance in this period piece
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Recent Examples on the Web Collins’ musical homage lasted no more than 10 seconds and was delightfully incongruous. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "This magic moment: Unforgettable concerts can crystallize in musical memories that live on and on," 9 May 2021 The joy that might be possible in the near future for some people will, for many others, be disorientingly incongruous with the pain of the recent past. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "What to Wear to Reenter Society," 5 May 2021 While there’s a certain type of fantasy series that seems to take place in a past that has all the qualities of the future, Shadow and Bone was careful to make sure its world felt unique but never incongruous. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "The True Historical Events That Inspired Shadow and Bone," 23 Apr. 2021 But some 30 million households have children still too young to be vaccinated; in these families, parents and caretakers, especially of the youngest children, will have to keep navigating this incongruous world. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "We Are Turning COVID-19 Into a Young Person’s Disease," 21 Apr. 2021 This assessment was so incongruous with logic that prosecutor Steve Schleicher launched into his cross-examination with the slow, methodical patience of a lion stalking a lame antelope. Washington Post, "The objective reasonableness of fear," 13 Apr. 2021 Moreover, the paper makes the incongruous claim that increased mortality risk became statistically significant at seven weeks — three weeks before the incidence of infections rose. Joel Zinberg, National Review, "The CDC Extends Its Illegal, Ineffective Eviction Moratorium," 29 Mar. 2021 This struck Neyfakh and the Prologue team as incongruous with the opportunity that 5-4 was exhibiting. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, "Yes, Podcast Listenership Is Still on the Rise," 16 Mar. 2021 Similarly, to sing a morning raga in the evening is not so much inadmissible as incongruous. Amit Chaudhuri, Harper's Magazine, "Bent Notes," 16 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incongruous.' 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 incongruous

1582, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incongruous

Late Latin incongruus, from Latin in- + congruus congruous

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Time Traveler for incongruous

Time Traveler

The first known use of incongruous was in 1582

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Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incongruous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for incongruous



English Language Learners Definition of incongruous

: strange because of not agreeing with what is usual or expected


in·​con·​gru·​ous | \ in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs How to pronounce incongruous (audio) \

Kids Definition of incongruous

: not proper, suitable, or in harmony incongruous colors

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