adjective in·con·gru·ous \ (ˌ)in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs \
Updated on: 13 Jan 2018

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





incongruous was our Word of the Day on 06/17/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of incongruous in a Sentence

  1. There is something incongruous about Oslo. —Hugh C. McDonaldThe Hour of the Blue Fox1975
  2. … 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 WoukAurora Dawn1947
  3. He ate enormously, with a zest which seemed incongruous with his spare frame. —Willa CatherThe Song of the Lark1915
  4. His outburst seemed incongruous to those who know him well.

  5. there's an incongruous modernism to the actor's performance in this period piece

Recent Examples of incongruous from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of incongruous

Late Latin incongruus, from Latin in- + congruus congruous

INCONGRUOUS Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of incongruous for English Language Learners

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

INCONGRUOUS Defined for Kids


adjective in·con·gru·ous \ in-ˈkäŋ-grə-wəs \

Definition of incongruous for Students

: not proper, suitable, or in harmony
  • incongruous colors

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up incongruous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to cause to suffer severely from hunger

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Winter Words Quiz

  • fox-in-front-of-cabin-in-winter
  • Another word for ‘a person who travels to an area of warmth and sun, especially in winter’ is a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!