untoward

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

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

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Other Words from untoward

untowardly adverb
untowardness noun

Toward and Untoward

More than 700 years ago, English speakers began using the word toward for "forward-moving" youngsters, the kind who showed promise and were open to listening to their elders. After about 150 years, the use was broadened somewhat to mean simply "docile" or "obliging." The opposite of this toward is froward, meaning "perverse" or "ungovernable." Today, froward has fallen out of common use, and the cooperative sense of toward is downright obsolete, but the newcomer to this series—untoward—has kept its toehold. Untoward first showed up as a synonym of unruly in the 1500s, and it is still used, just as it was then, though it has since acquired other meanings as well.

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

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said there is nothing untoward about Ohio’s law. The Economist, "A divided Supreme Court strikes a blow for lower election turnouts," 14 June 2018 Even a few untoward remarks like this to students can have profound effects. Barbara Oakley, WSJ, "Why Do Women Shun STEM? It’s Complicated," 13 July 2018 But he has been suspended six times for untoward acts, and was fined earlier this season for diving. Kevin Allen, USA TODAY, "NHL never told Bruins' Brad Marchand to stop licking players," 27 Apr. 2018 In one case, an employee of the country's domestic intelligence agency was inside an internet cafe when the owner was gunned down, but claimed not to have seen or heard anything untoward. Fox News, "As German neo-Nazi trial ends, families still seek answers," 10 July 2018 Giuliani pushed back Sunday on the notion that in discussing his pardon power, the president had been suggesting doing anything untoward. Karoun Demirjian, chicagotribune.com, "Giuliani suggests Trump may pardon Manafort after Mueller's probe," 17 June 2018 Harris has said there is nothing untoward about him, as a legislator, pushing a proposal regarding his industry. Julia O'donoghue, NOLA.com, "John Bel Edwards vetoes bill meant to help businesses like House GOP chairman's," 5 June 2018 Harris has said there is nothing untoward about him, as a legislator, pushing a proposal regarding his industry. Julia O'donoghue, NOLA.com, "John Bel Edwards vetoes bill meant to help businesses like House GOP chairman's," 5 June 2018 Johnson’s timeline doesn’t demonstrate anything untoward on its own, although its partial quotations leave out valuable context. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Anatomy of a Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory," 22 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of untoward

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for untoward

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for untoward

The first known use of untoward was in 1526

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More Definitions for untoward

untoward

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of untoward

: bad or unfavorable : not good

: not proper or appropriate

untoward

adjective
un·​to·​ward | \ˌən-ˈtō-ərd \

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

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