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The system is outdated and unwieldy.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 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 But the dual role of dean and vice president proved unwieldy. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Steven Marcus, Columbia Scholar and Literary Critic, Dies at 89," 30 Apr. 2018 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

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

9 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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