pon·​der·​ous | \ˈpän-d(ə-)rəs \

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

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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

For all its ponderous officialdom, the Pentagon also has an especially clear chain of command. The Economist, "Administrative bipolar disorderOne arm of the Trump administration thinks climate change is a security threat," 22 Feb. 2018 But Giroud, at 31, is increasingly looking like the odd man out, the ponderous weak link when France is surging forward at speed, unable to keep up with Mbappe's inventiveness and his Usain Bolt-like runs. John Leicester, chicagotribune.com, "With World Cup title, France could launch a dynasty," 10 July 2018 Despite an ensemble cast that ranks among the best on TV playing characters who are usually colorful and quirky and fun, the ponderous repetitiveness of what the series does with them is all-too-frequently mechanical. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Billions' Season 3: TV Review," 24 Mar. 2018 The ponderous choice to cleave the overstuffed Scorpion into Sides A and B results in two uneven suites of songs. Andy Hutchins, Time, "Scorpion Finds Drake Struggling to Keep It All Together," 29 June 2018 Things turned ponderous right from the opener, when North Carolina and Oregon State played the longest nine-inning game, by time, in the tournament’s 72-year history — 4:24. Pat Borzi, New York Times, "Pace of Play Problems Plague College Baseball, Too," 25 June 2018 In perhaps a nod to that request, Cuba’s official press was largely devoid of ponderous coverage reflecting on the Castro family ceding power, and focused instead on the technical aspects of the transition. Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, "In Cuba’s National Assembly, Raúl Castro marks last hours of his family’s rule," 18 Apr. 2018 With the ponderous weight of expectation likely in the back of her mind, the less-is-more approach is a smart one, as evidenced by the latest glance behind the curtain Cobain posted late Tuesday night (June 12). Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Frances Bean Cobain Posts Clip of Intense New Song: Listen," 13 June 2018 First implication: Anything serious has to be ponderous. Vogue, "Portrait of a Reporter as a Young Man: Tom Wolfe in Vogue, April 1966," 15 May 2018

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.

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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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Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for ponderous

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

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More Definitions for ponderous



English Language Learners Definition of ponderous

: very boring or dull

: slow or awkward because of weight and size


pon·​der·​ous | \ˈpän-də-rəs \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ponderous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ponderous

Spanish Central: Translation of ponderous

Nglish: Translation of ponderous for Spanish Speakers

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something that serves to warn or remind

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