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 And yet the sun shone in on an ensuing violin concerto by classical-era composer Joseph Bologne without seeming incongruous. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, 29 May 2021 The images are incongruous, unexpected, brazenly goofy, and removed from the majestic profile pushed by Olympic lore. Chris Vognar, Vulture, 26 May 2021 Israel’s success, so incongruous in the Middle East, must have been achieved through oppression and intolerance, the opponents argue. WSJ, 25 May 2021 Other critics lit up Twitter with a #YangSupportsGenocide hashtag, an incongruous charge to hurl at a nerdy start-up-guy who made his modest fortune running a GMAT prep company. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 14 May 2021 With Apple intent on making the notch smaller, designer Antonio De Rosa imagined what would happen if Apple didn’t eliminate the notch, but rather moved it ever so slightly above the display in an incongruous form factor. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 13 May 2021 Collins’ musical homage lasted no more than 10 seconds and was delightfully incongruous. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 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, 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, 23 Apr. 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

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incongruous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 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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