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

These isolationist policies are incongruous to the vision of the Columbia Global Centers (CGC) to further a more integrated world. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Top American universities are doubling down on their presence across Africa," 5 July 2019 Study participants all judged the situation to be incongruous, but only nonbelievers readily laughed at it. Giovanni Sabato, Scientific American, "What’s So Funny? The Science of Why We Laugh," 26 June 2019 In another context, the fact that Monty (Jonathan Majors), who works in a fish market, writes plays and is frequently seen sketching might seem incongruous. Mark Feeney,, "A sense of dislocation in ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’," 13 June 2019 The Muslim involvement isn’t incongruous in the tiny community. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "Meet the Muslim family who looks after a Jewish synagogue in India," 26 Feb. 2019 The city is a cheeky insult to the natural order, a mix of incongruous elements that somehow reinforce one another while trying to tear one another down. Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books, "The City That Wouldn’t Die," 4 Apr. 2019 There is something so incongruous to me about those three words: Memorial Day sale. Andrea Marr,, "It’s OK to shop the sales, but please take a moment to remember the fallen on Memorial Day," 26 May 2018 The incongruous group includes Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mr. and Mrs. Sean Spicer and a handful of journos from notably left-leaning publications. Adrienne Wichard-edds, The Hollywood Reporter, "Rob Lowe Welcomes Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean Spicer Backstage at His One-Man Show," 15 May 2018 Gahan’s performance also provided energy, often in a way incongruous with the apparent vibe of the music. Marc Hirsh,, "At TD Garden, Depeche Mode lets in the light," 12 June 2018

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

1611, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incongruous

Late Latin incongruus, from Latin in- + congruus congruous

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Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for incongruous

The first known use of incongruous was in 1611

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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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Comments on incongruous

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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