sin·​u·​ous | \ ˈsin-yə-wəs How to pronounce sinuous (audio) , -yü-əs\

Definition of sinuous

1a : of a serpentine or wavy form : winding
b : marked by strong lithe movements

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Other Words from sinuous

sinuously adverb
sinuousness noun

Did You Know?

Although it probably makes you think more of snakes than head colds, sinuous is etymologically more like sinus than serpent. Sinuous and sinus both derive from the Latin noun sinus, which means "curve, fold, or hollow." Other sinus descendents include insinuate ("to impart or suggest in an artful or indirect way") and two terms you might remember from math class: sine and cosine. In English, sinus is the oldest of these words; it entered the language in the 1400s. Insinuate appeared next, in 1529, and was followed by sinuous (1578), sine (1593), and cosine (1635). Serpent, by the way, entered English in the 13th century and comes from the Latin verb serpere, meaning "to creep."

Examples of sinuous in a Sentence

She moved with sinuous grace. the river flowed in a sinuous path through the lush valley

Recent Examples on the Web

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon Hike through this sinuous slot canyon just 7.6 miles from Page, Arizona. Steve Larese, National Geographic, "Eight epic stops in the Four Corners region," 27 June 2019 In this case, the song sounds like pattern of loud gunshots, not the sinuous, haunting melodies of the humpback. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Listen to the First Known Song of the North Pacific Right Whale," 24 June 2019 Belly Dance The fluid and sinuous movement of the torso can lead to increased mobility and flexibility of the spine, while the percussive movements and vibration of the hips can improve core strength, Ms. Dooling-Cain says. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "She Strikes a Pose to Break a Sweat With Vogue Classes," 23 June 2019 When two very similar grids with light and dark elements overlap, new sinuous patterns emerge that seem to shimmer and flow. Quanta Magazine, "When Magic Is Seen in Twisted Graphene, That’s a Moiré," 20 June 2019 After a picnic lunch, descend through wildflower meadows along sinuous streams to the village of La Fouly. National Geographic, "Tour du Mont Blanc," 17 June 2019 Devices such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) — a net of electrodes placed on the scalp — can detect these fluctuations and graph them as sinuous lines similar to those drawn by a seismograph. Quanta Magazine, "The Beasts That Keep the Beat," 22 Mar. 2016 The children seem to have scooped up clay-rich mud from the floor and smeared it on a stalagmite against the far wall, then drew curved, sinuous shapes in the wet clay with their fingers. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "14,000-year-old footprints record an underground Stone Age family outing," 29 May 2019 In the consoling conclusion, launched by a sinuous flute solo ( Jasmine Choi ) and an eloquent boy soprano ( Tenzin Gund-Morrow ), things are put back together. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers’ Review: Timeless Bernstein," 18 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sinuous.' 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 sinuous

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sinuous

Latin sinuosus, from sinus

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Dictionary Entries near sinuous






sinus gland


Statistics for sinuous

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for sinuous

The first known use of sinuous was in 1578

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More Definitions for sinuous



English Language Learners Definition of sinuous

formal + literary
: having many twists and turns
: moving and bending in a smooth and attractive way


sin·​u·​ous | \ ˈsin-yə-wəs How to pronounce sinuous (audio) \

Kids Definition of sinuous

: having a wavy or winding form

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More from Merriam-Webster on sinuous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sinuous

Spanish Central: Translation of sinuous

Nglish: Translation of sinuous for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sinuous

What made you want to look up sinuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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