un·​wieldy | \ ˌən-ˈwēl-dē How to pronounce unwieldy (audio) \

Definition of unwieldy

: not easily managed, handled, or used (as because of bulk, weight, complexity, or awkwardness) : cumbersome

Other Words from unwieldy

unwieldily \ ˌən-​ˈwēl-​də-​lē How to pronounce unwieldy (audio) \ adverb
unwieldiness \ ˌən-​ˈwēl-​dē-​nəs How to pronounce unwieldy (audio) \ noun

The Difference Between Wieldy and Unwieldy

The verb to wield means "to handle or exert something effectively." A carpenter might wield a hammer with impressive dexterity, for example, or a talented orator might wield influence over an audience of listeners. Something that is "wieldy" is capable of being wielded easily, and while that adjective may not be particularly common, its antonym "unwieldy" finds ample use to describe anything that is awkward to handle, move, or manage. "Wield" and its relatives all derive via Middle English from Old English wieldan, meaning "to control."

Examples of unwieldy in a Sentence

The system is outdated and unwieldy. an unwieldy machine that requires two people to operate it
Recent Examples on the Web But the worst drought in at least 1,200 years, marked by intense and unwieldy fire activity, is something new. New York Times, 5 May 2022 Rachel Rothman, Chief Technologist at the Good Housekeeping Institute, often finds circular saws to be cumbersome and unwieldy. Dan Diclerico, Good Housekeeping, 22 Apr. 2022 They've been encouraged to tailor communications that suit present realities and digitize unwieldy underwriting processes. Donna Jermer, Forbes, 5 May 2021 That gap could feel like a domestication of some more unwieldy spiritual power. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 21 Apr. 2022 While initially successful, Facebook shut down the service four years later after overseas growth made the service too unwieldy, due to costs from foreign currency conversions. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 7 Apr. 2022 Of all things, Harris’s unwieldy tower would spearhead the company’s campaign. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 9 Mar. 2022 To the uninitiated, the sport with stones and brooms and the instrument with a bladder and a tangle of reeds can appear unwieldy and baffling. New York Times, 12 Feb. 2022 That history tends to get lost in the decades-long debate about whether CEQA remains a national standard for environmental protection, or has become an unwieldy and cumbersome law that, in the view of some, has become counterproductive to its goals. San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Feb. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of unwieldy

1530, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of unwieldy was in 1530

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Unwieldy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unwieldy. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for unwieldy


un·​wieldy | \ ˌən-ˈwēl-dē How to pronounce unwieldy (audio) \

Kids Definition of unwieldy

: hard to handle or control because of size or weight an unwieldy class The package is not heavy, but it is unwieldy.

Other Words from unwieldy

unwieldiness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on unwieldy

Nglish: Translation of unwieldy for Spanish Speakers


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