mal·​adroit | \ ˌma-lə-ˈdrȯit How to pronounce maladroit (audio) \

Definition of maladroit

: lacking adroitness : inept The governor has been criticized for his maladroit handling of the budget crisis.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from maladroit

maladroitly adverb
maladroitness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for maladroit

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Maladroit Comes From Old and Middle French

To understand the origin of "maladroit," you need to put together some Middle French and Old French building blocks. The first is the word mal, meaning "bad," and the second is the phrase a droit, meaning "properly." You can parse the phrase even further into the components a, meaning "to" or "at," and droit, meaning "right, direct, or straight." Middle French speakers put those pieces together as "maladroit" to describe the clumsy among them, and English speakers borrowed the word intact back in the 17th century. Its opposite, of course, is "adroit," which we adopted from the French in the same century.

Examples of maladroit in a Sentence

The governor has been criticized for his maladroit handling of the budget crisis. some maladroit steering on her part caused the bicycle to go crashing into the bushes
Recent Examples on the Web The series is itself like a socially awkward teen-age nerd—charming but maladroit, heedless, a little exhausting. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, "“Never Have I Ever,” Reviewed: Hotness and Hotheads," 10 May 2020 His own party criticizes what many call his maladroit communication on an anxiety-inducing subject. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, "With France in Uproar Over Pensions, Macron May Need One Early," 9 Dec. 2019 Playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon concoct for her a suitor who’s just as introverted and socially maladroit, the newly wealthy Arthur de Bourgh. Dominic P. Papatola, Twin Cities, "Holiday Arts Guide 2019: Deck the stages with shows of the season," 24 Nov. 2019 Equally maladroit was her debate decision to wrap herself in an unpopular policy that ended 20 years ago. George Will, National Review, "How Can Presidential Candidates Be So Silly?," 7 July 2019 Equally maladroit was her debate decision to wrap herself in an unpopular policy that ended 20 years ago. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: How can presidential candidates be so silly?," 7 July 2019 Hicks bungled his hijacking of the Johnson, however, and proved maladroit at escaping, leaving a clear trail of evidence along his getaway route. Rinker Buck, WSJ, "‘The Last Pirate of New York’ Review: New York’s Original Gangster," 28 June 2019 Trump may have been typically maladroit at actually executing on this policy view, but that’s a side issue. Michael Hiltzik,, "A radical trade prescription from the Federal Reserve: Stop complaining about China, and pay U.S. workers better," 12 June 2018 Few Jordanians will miss Mr Mulki, a maladroit politician. The Economist, "Jordan’s King Abdullah tries to calm an angry public," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'maladroit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of maladroit

1685, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for maladroit

French, from Middle French, from mal- + adroit

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about maladroit

Time Traveler for maladroit

Time Traveler

The first known use of maladroit was in 1685

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about maladroit

Statistics for maladroit

Cite this Entry

“Maladroit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for maladroit



English Language Learners Definition of maladroit

formal : very awkward : not skillful or adroit

More from Merriam-Webster on maladroit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for maladroit

Comments on maladroit

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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