un·​couth | \ ən-ˈküth How to pronounce uncouth (audio) \

Definition of uncouth

1a : awkward and uncultivated in appearance, manner, or behavior : rude
b : lacking in polish and grace : rugged uncouth verse
c : strange or clumsy in shape or appearance : outlandish
2a archaic : not known or not familiar to one : seldom experienced : uncommon, rare
b obsolete : mysterious, uncanny

Other Words from uncouth

uncouthly adverb
uncouthness noun

History of Uncouth: From Unfamiliar to Outlandish

Uncouth comes from Old English cūth, meaning "familiar" or "known," prefixed by un-, giving the meaning "unfamiliar." 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.

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
Recent Examples on the Web In a sense, your heightened reward inadvertently shines a light on your AI and prods a slew of uncouth moths to correspondingly be perniciously attracted to the glowing light beam. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 16 July 2022 Where her husband was brash and often uncouth, Ms. Trump came across to the city’s moneyed elite as charming and sophisticated, opening doors to rarefied social circles that Mr. Trump could then barrel through. New York Times, 14 July 2022 The Tronsmart Onyx Ace Pro earbuds are amazing value for money and produce a sound that’s big and bold but never uncouth or unruly. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 4 June 2022 When it was published, in 1949, his level of disclosure was still considered uncouth, and Gunther knew it. Andrew Aoyama, The Atlantic, 3 June 2022 At the very least, this tweet is uncouth by business standards. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 13 May 2022 Mahershala Ali plays a Black pianist touring the Jim Crow South and Viggo Mortensen is his uncouth driver in a feel-good film about race relations with a whitewashed perspective. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2022 While many of Silicon Valley’s wealthy would distance themselves from this uncouth Trumpy identification with fossil fuels, Andreessen is a good example of how petromasculinity can operate in a white-collar context, as well. Liza Featherstone, The New Republic, 11 Apr. 2022 Fluent in Japanese and determined not to stick out as the uncouth American, Jake keeps his nose to the ground and immerses himself in the city’s culture. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 7 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'uncouth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of uncouth

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for 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 entry 1

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The first known use of uncouth was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Uncouth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncouth. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for uncouth


un·​couth | \ ˌən-ˈküth How to pronounce uncouth (audio) \

Kids Definition of uncouth

: impolite in conduct or speech : crude uncouth manners uncouth people

More from Merriam-Webster on uncouth

Nglish: Translation of uncouth for Spanish Speakers


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