Definition of uncouth
uncouth was our Word of the Day on 01/24/2017. Hear the podcast!
Examples of uncouth in a sentence
People thought he was uncouth and uncivilized.
will not tolerate any uncouth behavior, such as eating with one's mouth open
History of uncouth: From Unfamiliar to Outlandish
Uncouth comes from the Old English word uncūth, which joins the prefix un- with cūth, meaning "familiar" or "known." How did a word that meant "unfamiliar" come to mean "outlandish," "rugged," or "rude"? Some examples from literature illustrate that the transition happened quite naturally. In Captain Singleton, Daniel Defoe refers to "a strange noise more uncouth than any they had ever heard." In William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Orlando tells Adam, "If this uncouth forest yield anything savage, I will either be food for it or bring it for food to thee." In Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane fears "to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him!" So, that which is unfamiliar is often perceived as strange, wild, or unpleasant. Meanings such as "outlandish," "rugged," or "rude" naturally follow.
Origin and Etymology of uncouth
Middle English, from Old English uncūth, from un- + cūth familiar, known; akin to Old High German kund known, Old English can know — more at can
First Known Use: before 12th century
UNCOUTH Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of uncouth for English Language Learners
: behaving in a rude way : not polite or socially acceptable
UNCOUTH Defined for Kids
History for uncouth
The word uncouth first meant “unknown” or “strange.” It goes back to Old English uncūth, made up of un-, “not,” and cūth, “known,” which is related to modern English can and know.
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