mawk·​ish | \ ˈmȯ-kish How to pronounce mawkish (audio) \

Definition of mawkish

1 : lacking flavor or having an unpleasant taste
2 : exaggeratedly or childishly emotional a mawkish love story mawkish poetry

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Other Words from mawkish

mawkishly adverb
mawkishness noun

The Squirming Origins of Mawkish

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."

Examples of mawkish in a Sentence

a mawkish plea for donations to the charity
Recent Examples on the Web But this was a very strange debut, merging grim toughness with mawkish softening twists. Darren Franich,, "The Mandalorian wants to be your family-friendly ultraviolent Star Wars," 12 Nov. 2019 Professional critics found such works mawkish, and heavy-metal purists dissed Linkin Park in crasser terms—gay or, yes, girly. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Linkin Park Gave to Pop Music," 25 June 2018 Like a very, very mawkish improv set, the episode struggles to insert all this information while moving the plot forward. Rebecca Farley,, "The Beginning Of The End: The Fosters Series Finale, Part 1," 5 June 2018 Kara’s scenes are full of swelling strings and mawkish sentimentality that seem to be begging you to Feel Something Now. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Detroit: Become Human review: Robotic in all of the wrong ways," 24 May 2018 That’s the case with the movie’s worst moments—mawkish encounters between Ted and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Chappaquiddick’ Review: Tragedy Without Clarity," 5 Apr. 2018 Bill Nighy adds a light comic touch, and is a welcome foil for some of Their Finest’s occasional mawkish moments. Thomas Barrie, A-LIST, "Their Finest," 6 Apr. 2017 Victoria Livengood’s wobbly mezzo makes her hard to take in the mawkish role of the Mother. John Von Rhein,, "Racette's searing performance elevates melodramatic hokum of COT's 'The Consul'," 5 Nov. 2017 Lots of so-so joshery about college life, a big mawkish moment and a redemptive theme make this strictly mall fodder. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Movie review capsules, Oct. 29," 25 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mawkish.' 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 mawkish

circa 1697, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mawkish

Middle English mawke maggot, probably from Old Norse mathkr — more at maggot

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Time Traveler for mawkish

Time Traveler

The first known use of mawkish was circa 1697

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Last Updated

29 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mawkish.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for mawkish


How to pronounce mawkish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mawkish

: sad or romantic in a foolish or exaggerated way

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More from Merriam-Webster on mawkish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mawkish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mawkish

Spanish Central: Translation of mawkish

Nglish: Translation of mawkish for Spanish Speakers

Comments on mawkish

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a period of high artistic development

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