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.

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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

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 But Republicans’ actions, while perhaps maladroit, aren’t exactly a death knell to the marketplaces, either. Washington Post, "The Health 202: Half of Americans think Obamacare marketplaces are crumbling," 3 Apr. 2018 Taylor didn't immediately seem to belong at AxeCap because of superficial discomfort and maladroit social tendencies. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: 'Billions' Caps a Much-Improved Season 2," 9 May 2017 While the days of maladroit Soviet propaganda are long gone, there are still echoes of it, particularly with the Kremlin’s commitment to lies and falsehood. Sarah Oates, The Denver Post, "How Russian “kompromat” destroys political opponents, no facts required," 21 Jan. 2017 Stumpf was forced out in October, following spectacularly maladroit appearances before congressional committees looking into the scandal, and gave up about $41 million in compensation. Michael Hiltzik,, "Sen. Warren is right: The Wells Fargo directors all should be fired," 19 June 2017 This masterfully maladroit storytelling is no simple achievement. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Yorker, "The Podcast That Tells Ingeniously Boring Bedtime Stories to Help You Fall Asleep," 11 June 2016

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.

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First Known Use of maladroit

1685, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for maladroit

French, from Middle French, from mal- + adroit

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Time Traveler for maladroit

The first known use of maladroit was in 1685

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English Language Learners Definition of maladroit

formal : very awkward : not skillful or adroit

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