Definition of mawkish
1 : lacking flavor or having an unpleasant taste
2 : exaggeratedly or childishly emotional a mawkish love story mawkish poetry
mawkish was our Word of the Day on 10/30/2012. Hear the podcast!
Examples of mawkish in a sentence
a mawkish plea for donations to the charity
Did You Know?
The etymology of mawkish really opens up a can of worms-or, more properly, maggots. The mawk of mawkish derives from Middle English mawke, which means "maggot." Mawke, in its turn, developed from the Old Norse word mathkr, which had the same meaning as its descendant. Although mawkish literally means "maggoty," since at least the 17th century English speakers have eschewed its decaying carcass implications and used it figuratively instead. As one language writer put it, "Time has treated 'mawkish' gently: the wormy stench and corruption of its primal state were forgotten and 'mawkish' became sickly in a weak sort of way instead of repulsive and revolting."
Origin and Etymology of mawkish
Middle English mawke maggot, probably from Old Norse mathkr — more at maggot
First Known Use: circa 1697
MAWKISH Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of mawkish for English Language Learners
: sad or romantic in a foolish or exaggerated way
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up mawkish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).