Word of the Day : December 30, 2011


adjective mal-uh-DROYT


: lacking skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations : inept

Did You Know?

To understand the origin of "maladroit," you need to put together some Middle French and Old French building blocks. The first is the word "mal," meaning "bad," and the second is the phrase "a droit," meaning "properly." You can parse the phrase even further into the components "a," meaning "to" or "at," and "droit," meaning "right, direct, or straight." Middle French speakers put those pieces together as "maladroit" to describe the clumsy among them, and English speakers borrowed the word intact back in the 17th century. Its opposite, of course, is "adroit," which we adopted from the French in the same century.


Jim's maladroit management of the construction project caused it to take months longer than expected to be completed.

"All the aristocrats, not surprisingly, turn out to be maladroit, unable to feed or dress themselves, and are dependent on the servants." -- From a theater review by James MacKillop in Syracuse New Times, August 17-24, 2011

Name That Antonym

What antonym of "maladroit" rhymes with "theft"? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!