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
2 a :marked by trouble or unhappiness :unlucky
b :not favorable :adverse, unpropitious
  • untoward side effects

untowardly

adverb

untowardness

noun

untoward was our Word of the Day on 09/07/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of untoward in a Sentence

  1. There was nothing untoward about his appearance.

  2. tried to reason with the untoward child

Recent Examples of untoward from the Web

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.

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.

First Known Use of untoward

1526


UNTOWARD Defined for English Language Learners

untoward

adjective

Definition of untoward for English Language Learners

  • : bad or unfavorable : not good

  • : not proper or appropriate


UNTOWARD Defined for Kids

untoward

adjective un·to·ward \ ˌən-ˈtō-ərd \

Definition of untoward for Students

: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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