un·​to·​ward | \ ˌən-ˈtō-ərd How to pronounce untoward (audio) , -ˈtȯ(-ə)rd; ˌən-tə-ˈwȯrd How to pronounce untoward (audio) \

Definition of untoward

1 : difficult to guide, manage, or work with : unruly, intractable
2a : marked by trouble or unhappiness : unlucky
b : not favorable : adverse, unpropitious untoward side effects

Other Words from untoward

untowardly adverb
untowardness noun

Toward and Untoward

For centuries, toward was used for "forward-moving" youngsters, the kind who showed promise and were open to listening to their elders. The adjective then came to mean "obliging." The opposite of this toward is froward, meaning "disobedient." Froward has fallen out of common use, and the cooperative sense of toward is obsolete, but untoward is still moving forward.

Examples of untoward in a Sentence

There was nothing untoward about his appearance. tried to reason with the untoward child
Recent Examples on the Web And, of course, NASA wants to make sure its brand isn't used for any untoward purposes, such as in a way that suggests that NASA endorses a company or product. Jackie Wattles, CNN, 23 July 2022 Going after drag culture provides cover under the argument that drag queens reading to children is inappropriate or untoward. Kim Bellware, Washington Post, 13 June 2022 Unfortunately, any medical intervention runs the risk of causing an untoward effect. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 2 June 2022 Alvina Vasquez, a spokeswoman for Democratic Colorado, would not say who was funding the group and insisted there was nothing untoward about the ads. New York Times, 16 June 2022 Tim went on to clarify that, because of Mr. Jones’s status as an educator in town, the department had a policy in place for anything untoward. Kathleen Alcott, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 Black women have received untoward commentary about our hair texture, our hairstyle choices, and our hair loss for a very long time now. Aley Arion, Essence, 1 Apr. 2022 Lamentedly, the stopping ploy sometimes won’t work or the clever stunt could create an untoward driving situation that gets out of hand. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Wednesday that the U.N. agency, which has broad inspections rights in Ukraine, had seen no untoward activity. Laurence Norman, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of untoward

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of untoward was in 1526

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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Untoward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/untoward. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for untoward


un·​to·​ward | \ ˌən-ˈtō-ərd How to pronounce untoward (audio) \

Kids Definition of untoward

: unexpected and unpleasant or improper Perhaps there was sickness in the temple, or some other untoward event …— Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard

More from Merriam-Webster on untoward

Nglish: Translation of untoward for Spanish Speakers


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