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

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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 Judging by the initial reaction on social media and his swift suspension by Churchill Downs, Baffert bears a ponderous burden of proof. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Sullivan: Bob Baffert is trying to sell 'sabotage' to an audience conditioned to skepticism," 9 May 2021 To every mood, whether ponderous and grand or playful and bubbly, Jacobs brings just what’s required, and fully exploits the instrument’s warmth and softness. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra treats Adella patrons to electic 20th-century program, with flute," 9 Apr. 2021 Juve were ponderous, lacking incisiveness and were generally lethargic in their play. Emmet Gates, Forbes, "Juventus Might Not Make The Champions League Next Season, And Not Because Of UEFA," 26 Apr. 2021 It’s an intriguing premise delivered in excruciatingly ponderous fashion, with Clooney in particular (playing the metaphorical last man on Earth) a particular snooze, paired with a twist that sits indifferently between predictable and clichéd. Joe Reid, Vulture, "Every 2021 Oscar-Nominated Movie, Ranked," 21 Apr. 2021 If this all sounds a bit ponderous, blame me, not the ingeniousness of Ozick's novella. Claude Peck, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Antiquities,' by Cynthia Ozick," 16 Apr. 2021 That premise is goofy enough to be fun but, as executed by writer-director Justin P. Lange, the movie is too ponderous and dry — neither endearingly trashy nor effectively scary. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Exorcism thriller ‘The Seventh Day’ is too ponderous to raise a decent scare," 25 Mar. 2021 My notes are just full of painfully ponderous lines of dialogue. The New Republic Staff, The New Republic, "Is Zack Snyder’s Justice League the Worst Superhero Movie Yet?," 19 Mar. 2021 And the movie has a real sweetness and sincerity to it, determined to give family audiences a superhero flick that’s not all ponderous brooding and dark origin stories. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "Every DC Comics Movie, Ranked," 22 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for ponderous

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

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Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ponderous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ponderous. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ponderous

Nglish: Translation of ponderous for Spanish Speakers

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