unwieldy

adjective
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

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Other Words from unwieldy

unwieldily \ ˌən-​ˈwēl-​də-​lē How to pronounce unwieldily (audio) \ adverb
unwieldiness \ ˌən-​ˈwēl-​dē-​nəs How to pronounce unwieldiness (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The system is outdated and unwieldy.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

The attorneys’ hope is to give the drug companies a set group of governments to negotiate with, instead of having lawsuits trickle in and continue to make negotiations unwieldy. Eric Heisig, cleveland.com, "Cities, counties across U.S. should unite to negotiate opioid lawsuits against drug companies, attorneys say," 14 June 2019 Her food deserves a warmer space than this slightly unwieldy dining room that calls to mind a tavern. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "A Filipino Specialty Best Paired With a Brew in the East Village," 5 July 2018 Just as the diffusion of oxygen into tracheal tubes works for insect respiration but not for larger animals, other biological design strategies work well at certain sizes yet become unwieldy at larger or smaller ones. Quanta Magazine, "Too Small for Big Muscles, Tiny Animals Use Springs," 13 June 2018 If crowds become unwieldy, visitors must join a virtual queue via a Disney app and wait their turn to enter. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Thanks to Star Wars, the rest of Disneyland is not crazy crowded. Here's what's new at the park," 5 June 2018 The massive merger is just the latest grand-scale restructuring of the health care industry, which is under pressure to rein in unwieldy costs while facing competitive threats from tech giants, such as Amazon, joining the fray. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "DOJ approves $69B CVS-Aetna merger as healthcare industry restructures," 11 Oct. 2018 Our sister site The Verge got some hands-on time with the giant new $1,099 iPhone XS Max, which has a 6.5-inch screen — even bigger than the latest model in Samsung’s famously large Galaxy Note line — but doesn’t feel unwieldy. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Apple’s new iPhones, Uber’s new logo, Juul’s new problem," 13 Sep. 2018 Products also should be compact and easily packable—no unwieldy tubs or precarious glass dropper bottles. Gray Chapman, SELF, "How Hikers Do Skin-Care on Long Backpacking Trips," 28 July 2018 Solo brass blazed with clarity in Bernstein’s big-band passages, but to the detriment of the whole ensemble’s balance in unwieldy scenes like the dance at the gym. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "The Trouble With Bernstein’s Broadway in the Concert Hall," 13 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of unwieldy

1530, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for unwieldy

Last Updated

23 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unwieldy

The first known use of unwieldy was in 1530

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More Definitions for unwieldy

unwieldy

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of unwieldy

: difficult to handle, control, or deal with because of being large, heavy, or complex

unwieldy

adjective
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on unwieldy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unwieldy

Spanish Central: Translation of unwieldy

Nglish: Translation of unwieldy for Spanish Speakers

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