wood·​en ˈwu̇-dᵊn How to pronounce wooden (audio)
: made or consisting of wood
: lacking ease or flexibility : awkwardly stiff
a wooden speech
a wooden performer
woodenly adverb
woodenness noun

Did you know?

Humans have been making objects out of wood since before there even was an English language, but the adjectival use of "wood" didn't come into being until the 14th century, and "wooden" didn't appear until the 16th. (The word wood has ancient roots, but it originally existed only as a noun.) In Middle English, the adjective of choice was "tree" or "treen," as in a "tree vessel" or "treen shoes." "Treen" in turn came from the Old English word trēowen, from the noun "trēow" ("tree") and the suffix -en, which was used to indicate that something was composed of a certain material. As far as we know, no one ever used "treen" figuratively to describe things that are stiff as a board, but "wooden" was put to broader use soon after it was first recorded.

Examples of wooden in a Sentence

The guest speaker was wooden and uninspiring. a movie with wooden dialogue
Recent Examples on the Web On those service days and throughout the school year classes of students have taken turns picking up trash, raking and weeding beds, working in food pantries, helping at elementary schools and local nursing homes, and building wooden bird feeders and yard sets of dominoes. Cynthia Howell, arkansasonline.com, 14 Apr. 2024 The Logan Circle store has long featured a tattered awning, a mess of toys haphazardly placed in its display window and a weathered wooden sign out front advertising what people might find inside. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, 13 Apr. 2024 Now 70 years old, Brito López recounted the horrors of that day to High Risk Court A in Guatemala City this week, saying the soldiers murdered his family during the early morning raid on January 20, 1982, burning their bodies inside their wooden home. Tara John, CNN, 13 Apr. 2024 The whole set is made from high-quality wood, including the wooden puzzle base/tray. Ashley Ziegler, Parents, 13 Apr. 2024 In Kyiv this week, two wooden caskets bearing soldiers’ bodies were brought to Independence Square — the heart of Ukraine’s 2014 pro-democracy protests — in a solemn parade, with mourners kneeling at their passing. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2024 Take a look → Mysterious wooden train car — almost 100 years old — unearthed in Belgium, photos show The burials included men, women and children each placed in their own pit, the institute said. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 12 Apr. 2024 Create a Chain Reaction While most bunk beds boast a simple wooden frame, this space by Ike Baker Velten gives you permission to think outside of the birch (or walnut… or mahogany…) box. Kelsey Mulvey, Sunset Magazine, 11 Apr. 2024 The blaze sent the wooden buildings to the riverbed below. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 2 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wooden.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wooden was in 1538


Dictionary Entries Near wooden

Cite this Entry

“Wooden.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wooden. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


wood·​en ˈwu̇d-ᵊn How to pronounce wooden (audio)
: made of wood
a wooden spoon
: lacking in spirit, ease, or charm
written in a wooden style
woodenly adverb
woodenness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on wooden

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