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 Today, few read Spencer’s dense and ponderous books, and his ideas are rarely taught. Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined ‘Survival of the Fittest’," 29 Apr. 2020 Because coronavirus is such an overwhelming threat, this careful and ponderous timeline is being compacted enormously. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, "He signed up for a coronavirus vaccine trial using a method that's never been used in humans. Here's why.," 24 Apr. 2020 Devs is immediately ponderous, alienating, and full of unintentionally funny details: Why is there a 100-foot-high sculpture of that same small girl in the middle of the redwoods? Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Why TV Is So Worried About Free Will," 11 Mar. 2020 The Mirror and the Light is longer and more ponderous than its predecessors. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "In The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel Finally Takes Cromwell to the Block," 6 Apr. 2020 But probably even on a flawless night there would be no hiding the fact that this is a ponderous, excessively self-serious work, arguably crowd-pleasing but only for a certain sort of crowd. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Prince of Egypt': Theater Review," 26 Feb. 2020 Because characters sometimes sound like mouthpieces, the addition of some standard teen melodrama can make for slightly ponderous scripts. Judy Berman, Time, "Everything's Gonna Be Okay," 3 Jan. 2020 Arielle Kebbel and Michael Imperioli also star in a series that needs to overcome the most ponderous title of the season. Mike Hale, New York Times, "The 50 TV Shows You Need to Watch This Winter," 2 Jan. 2020 Wednesday’s hearing was another fascinating (if ponderous) episode in the impeachment of the 45th president. Ben Terris, Washington Post, "Impeachment goes to college," 4 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ponderous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ponderous. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for ponderous


How to pronounce ponderous (audio)

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

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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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