wood·​en | \ ˈwu̇-dᵊn How to pronounce wooden (audio) \

Definition of wooden

1 : made or consisting of wood
2 : lacking ease or flexibility : awkwardly stiff a wooden speech a wooden performer

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Other Words from wooden

woodenly adverb
woodenness \ ˈwu̇-​dᵊn-​(n)əs How to pronounce woodenness (audio) \ 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 Cordons of ropes and wooden stakes were neatly spaced out across the sand, giving each visitor or group an 85-square-foot space of their own. Geir Moulson, BostonGlobe.com, "Europeans soak up the sun but virus travel rules a mishmash," 25 May 2020 Hall, 37, was one of hockey’s original enforcers, known for applying his wooden stick like a cudgel and delivering knockout blows. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, "The Cost of Rushing Back to Sports: A Star’s Life," 25 May 2020 Cordons of ropes and wooden stakes were neatly spaced out across the sand, giving each visitor or group an 85-square-foot space of their own. Geir Moulson, USA TODAY, "Europeans soak up the sun on holiday weekend, while awaiting tourists stuck at home by coronavirus," 25 May 2020 The doctors use a wooden swab to check the back of her throat with a flashlight, and greet her bored, bewildered children, before moving on. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Bolsonaro calls coronavirus a 'little flu.' Inside Brazil's hospitals, doctors know the horrifying reality," 23 May 2020 The Santa Cruz beach boardwalk remains closed, with dust gathering on its wooden roller coaster and whirling rides. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Surge of cases in Santa Cruz tied to family gatherings," 23 May 2020 The park added wooden aviaries, bridges and trails built by hand. Jordan Salama, Smithsonian Magazine, "How the Stunning Scarlet Macaw Came Back From the Brink," 28 Apr. 2020 Around the land, people are opening dishwasher doors to discover such horrors as wooden spoons, copper pots and knives with the pointy ends up. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "No, How to Load the Dishwasher Isn't a Matter of Debate. Here's What You Need to Know," 28 Apr. 2020 Ward’s sisters, brother, and niece sat together on a wooden bench that looked like a church pew. Anna Clark, The New Republic, "He Was Wrongly Imprisoned for 25 Years. It Wasn’t DNA Evidence That Got Him Out.," 22 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wooden.' 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 wooden

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for wooden

Time Traveler

The first known use of wooden was in 1538

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Statistics for wooden

Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wooden.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wooden. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for wooden


How to pronounce wooden (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wooden

: made of wood
: awkward or stiff : not having or showing any emotion, energy, etc.


wood·​en | \ ˈwu̇-dᵊn How to pronounce wooden (audio) \

Kids Definition of wooden

1 : made of wood
2 : lacking spirit, ease, or charm a wooden manner

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More from Merriam-Webster on wooden

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wooden

Spanish Central: Translation of wooden

Nglish: Translation of wooden for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wooden for Arabic Speakers

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