adjective pon·der·ous \ ˈpän-d(ə-)rəs \
|Updated on: 7 Jul 2018

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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Examples of ponderous in a Sentence

  1. students struggling to stay awake during a ponderous lecture

  2. fell asleep during the ponderous speech

Recent Examples of ponderous from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of ponderous

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

ponderous Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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

PONDEROUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of ponderous for English Language Learners

  • : very boring or dull

  • : slow or awkward because of weight and size

PONDEROUS Defined for Kids


adjective pon·der·ous \ ˈpän-də-rəs \

Definition of ponderous for Students

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



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