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The system is outdated and unwieldy.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

In 1906, the company’s building materials department was flailing, a result of an unwieldy number of items. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How Sears Kit Homes changed housing," 16 Oct. 2018 Here, Forrest discusses first-time filmmaking with T&C. This is a big story about family, love, fame, addiction—a lot of unwieldy topics. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "Untogether is the Indie Rom-Com You Need To See," 8 Feb. 2019 Because responsibility devolves downward, no single entity gets stuck tracking and dispatching an unwieldy number of DERs. David Roberts, Vox, "Clean energy technologies threaten to overwhelm the grid. Here’s how it can adapt.," 30 Nov. 2018 The new government’s majority also rests on an unwieldy coalition of other defectors from UMNO and veteran opposition politicians with relatively little experience of government. The Economist, "Malaysia’s chance to clean up," 10 May 2018 Before the always-on internet, data was harder to collect and unwieldy to store in mass quantity. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Tech Companies Shouldn't Make Us Trust Them, At All," 11 Jan. 2019 The authenticity of beauty influencers has been coming under question for the past year or so, with a steady stream of scandals and an increasingly unwieldy number of influencer wannabes trying to make a career of it. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "The shady world of beauty influencers and the brands that pay them, explained," 31 Aug. 2018 Plus, modifying the voting process would be too expensive, too unwieldy, and, in the end, not worth it. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Georgia says switching back to all-paper voting is logistically impossible," 12 Sep. 2018 In a era where phones are pushing the limits of what can fit in our pockets, the V40 strikes a nice balance between too small and unwieldy. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Meet the LG V40 ThinQ: More screen, more battery, and more cameras," 3 Oct. 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

28 Apr 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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