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

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 congruus, from the verb congruere, which means "to come together" or "to agree." The dates of these words' first uses in English match up pretty well, too. Both words are first known to have appeared in English in the early 1580s.

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
Recent Examples on the Web Every corporate real-estate office, fast-food restaurant, nail salon, and family dry cleaner’s posted a picture of Her Majesty in its shopwindow, her ramrod bearing adding an incongruous glamour to the premises, no matter how modest. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 Briney makes James wide-eyed but not naive, smart enough to accept incongruous new parts of the picture without buying every rationalization that’s handed to him. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Sep. 2022 Another trait of Malaparte’s writing, which often alludes to painters (Chagall, Repin, Grosz and Bosch to name but a few), is his vivid way of expressing the strange and incongruous. Tobias Grey, WSJ, 9 Sep. 2022 The campus, slightly incongruous here, would fit seamlessly in Silicon Valley. Annabelle Timsit, Washington Post, 28 July 2022 The experience is overstuffed, a cornucopia of photos from vaguely familiar acquaintances and incongruous sponsored and suggested posts. Wired, 22 July 2022 Other comments and social media posts have criticized the incongruous nature of the new high school′s boundary, which would be completely bisected by Oakland Mills High School’s zone. Ethan Ehrenhaft, Baltimore Sun, 31 Aug. 2022 Share on TwitterShare on facebook IN HER HEAD, Veronique saw a giant spider weaving all the incongruous threads of theories about the shooting into an inescapable web. Amanda J. Crawford,, 17 Aug. 2022 But over the last two years, the beloved if incongruous entertainment oasis has enjoyed something of a pandemic moment as rodeos have surged in popularity nationwide. New York Times, 16 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of incongruous was in 1582

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incongruous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for incongruous


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

More from Merriam-Webster on incongruous

Nglish: Translation of incongruous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incongruous for Arabic Speakers


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