man·​qué | \ mäⁿ-ˈkā How to pronounce manqué (audio) \

Definition of manqué

: short of or frustrated in the fulfillment of one's aspirations or talents used postpositively a poet manqué

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The etymology of manqué is likely to vex left-handers. English speakers picked up "manqué" directly from French more than two centuries ago, and it ultimately comes from Latin manco, meaning "having a crippled hand." But in between the Latin and French portions of this word's history came the Italian word manco, which means both "lacking" and "left-handed." Lefties may be further displeased to learn that "manqué" isn't the only English word with a history that links left-handedness with something undesirable. For example, the word awkward comes from "awke," a Middle English word meaning both "turned the wrong way" and "left-handed." And the noun "gawk" ("a clumsy stupid person") probably comes from a "gawk" that means "left-handed" in English dialect.

First Known Use of manqué

1773, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for manqué

French, from past participle of manquer to lack, fail, from Italian mancare, from manco lacking, left-handed, from Latin, having a crippled hand, probably from manus

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The first known use of manqué was in 1773

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Cite this Entry

“Manqué.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of manqué

used to describe what a person could or should have been but never was


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