pon·​der·​ous | \ ˈpän-d(ə-)rəs How to pronounce ponderous (audio) \

Definition of ponderous

1 : of very great weight
2 : unwieldy or clumsy because of weight and size
3 : oppressively or unpleasantly dull : lifeless ponderous prose

Other Words from ponderous

ponderously adverb
ponderousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ponderous

heavy, weighty, ponderous, cumbrous, cumbersome mean having great weight. heavy implies that something has greater density or thickness than the average of its kind or class. a heavy child for his age weighty suggests having actual and not just relative weight. a load of weighty boxes ponderous implies having great weight because of size and massiveness with resulting great inertia. ponderous elephants in a circus parade cumbrous and cumbersome imply heaviness and bulkiness that make for difficulty in grasping, moving, carrying, or manipulating. wrestled with the cumbrous furniture early cameras were cumbersome and inconvenient

The Serious History of Ponderous

Ponderous is ultimately from the Latin word for "weight," namely, "pondus" (which also gave us "ponder" and "preponderance" and is related to "pound"). We adopted "ponderous" with the literal sense "heavy" from Anglo-French ponderus in the 15th century, and early on we appended a figurative sense of "weighty," that is, "serious" or "important." But we stopped using the "serious" sense of "ponderous" around 200 years ago - perhaps because in the meantime we'd imposed on it a different figurative sense of "dull and lifeless," which we still use today.

Examples of ponderous in a Sentence

students struggling to stay awake during a ponderous lecture fell asleep during the ponderous speech
Recent Examples on the Web The data comes in at a ponderous couple of megabits per second (Mbps). Jamie Carter, Forbes, 18 July 2022 On a Thursday morning with ponderous clouds and rumbling thunder, our group boarded the Barbara Ann II from Crisfield. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, 1 July 2022 Liberalism could scarcely imagine a better cheerleader in this bleak landscape than Fukuyama, who has a unique skill for imbuing a sometimes ponderous ideology with a narrative thrust. Krithika Varagur, The New Yorker, 25 May 2022 Despite the music’s harmonic richness, Weilerstein eschewed the temptation of ponderous tempos and the Phoenix playing was polished and articulate throughout. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 22 May 2022 The dialogue is reduced to ponderous proverbs and telegram-like declarations. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 10 May 2022 The ponderous massed-choir pieties of the Victorian era later yielded to the lighter, swifter mood of period-instrument versions and the semi-operatic stagings of directors such as Jonathan Miller and Peter Sellars. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, 14 Apr. 2022 This is realism with all the ponderous weight but little of the visual payoff. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2022 The sentiment serves as the thesis for this anthology series from creator Aaron Cooley and director Susanne Bier, a well-meaning but ponderous effort that wastes a trio of extraordinary actresses with its dull and cursory storytelling. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 11 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ponderous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ponderous

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ponderous

Middle English, from Anglo-French ponderus, from Latin ponderosus, from ponder-, pondus weight

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The first known use of ponderous was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ponderous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ponderous. Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for ponderous


pon·​der·​ous | \ ˈpän-də-rəs How to pronounce ponderous (audio) \

Kids Definition of ponderous

1 : very heavy a ponderous stone
2 : slow or clumsy because of weight and size The elephant moved with ponderous steps.
3 : unpleasantly dull a ponderous speech

Other Words from ponderous

ponderously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ponderous

Nglish: Translation of ponderous for Spanish Speakers


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