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 The latest milestone comes at an incongruous time when many states, under intense pressure from not only the White House but also their own citizens, announce plans to allow people back to work. Michael James, USA TODAY, "U.S. hits 50,000 deaths from coronavirus - just as many states announce plans to ease social distancing," 25 Apr. 2020 But Bon Iver’s decade-plus of experimentation allows him to seamlessly combine incongruous textures and moods. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "The 10 Best Albums of 2019," 27 Nov. 2019 Made of uneven cantilevered blocks—no two floors are the same—the design becomes progressively incongruous toward the top. Charles Curkin, ELLE Decor, "Discover Lofty Views in a New York City Super-Tall Skyscraper," 20 Nov. 2019 Use adjectives that are at least three syllables long to degrade any attempt to disagree with you, like outrageous, unreasonable, ludicrous, preposterous and incongruous. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "Turn your child into a sports columnist -- kids, send hot takes on the Browns, Buckeyes, Indians and Cavs," 31 Mar. 2020 Just as swiftly, Karen’s voice completes the verse, returning with the gentle response to Peluso’s distorted instrumental call, forging an incongruous duet. Longreads, "Why Karen Carpenter Matters," 4 Oct. 2019 There’s no mugging or incongruous gesturing, no flaunting of the subject’s presence. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "This photo exhibition captures people in the act of speaking — during a less self-conscious time," 19 Sep. 2019 And the lavish galas and the largely homogeneous circle of the well-to-do who frequent them may seem incongruous in a diverse city that is wrestling with income inequality. James Barron, New York Times, "The Debutante Ball in the Age of Instagram," 13 Feb. 2020 Mark Rotella, a senior editor at Publishers Weekly, said that what these books offer seems incongruous with the appeal of a cookbook for most people. Priya Krishna, New York Times, "Want to Write a Cookbook? Don’t Count the Money Just Yet," 1 Oct. 2019

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

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incongruous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for incongruous


How to pronounce incongruous (audio)

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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