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 And so much of what concerned me as important in the earlier pages of my diary now seems mawkish, trivial or beneath notice. Paul Theroux, New York Times, "Paul Theroux Recalls a Fear-Filled Lockdown," 30 Mar. 2020 This finale suggests a mawkish yet useful fact: that the cure for perfectionism is love. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "What One Learns from Twenty-Two Years of Writer’s Block," 26 Feb. 2020 Despite multifaceted characters and convincing performances (particularly from Cosio and Soria), Lemus and Chávez’s dialogue sometimes feels preachy, mawkish or on-the-nose. Judy Berman, Time, "Netflix's Sharp New Dramedy Gentefied Tells a Different Kind of Gentrification Story," 13 Feb. 2020 However, the work is a bit too strange to be mawkish. Mary Spencer, National Review, "Philip Glass’s Akhnaten Brings Ancient Egyptian Piety to Life," 14 Dec. 2019 The cards, though cute, were wry instead of mawkish. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "The Bard of Bedtime," 8 Oct. 2019 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Mawkish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for mawkish



English Language Learners Definition of mawkish

: sad or romantic in a foolish or exaggerated way

More from Merriam-Webster on mawkish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mawkish

Nglish: Translation of mawkish for Spanish Speakers

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