1 : strange or clumsy in shape or appearance : outlandish
2 : lacking in polish and grace : rugged
3 : awkward and uncultivated in appearance, manner, or behavior : rude
Did You Know?
Uncouth comes from the Old English word uncūth, which joins the prefix un- with cūth, meaning "familiar" or "known." How did a word that meant "unfamiliar" come to mean "outlandish," "rugged," or "rude"? Some examples from literature illustrate that the transition happened quite naturally. In Captain Singleton, Daniel Defoe refers to "a strange noise more uncouth than any they had ever heard." In William Shakespeare's As You Like It, Orlando tells Adam, "If this uncouth forest yield anything savage, I will either be food for it or bring it for food to thee." In Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane fears "to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him!" So, that which is unfamiliar is often perceived as strange, wild, or unpleasant. Meanings such as "outlandish," "rugged," or "rude" naturally follow.
"Increasingly, consumers are turning to mints and breath-freshening strips that don't come with gum's social baggage—namely, how to dispose of it when the flavor's gone as well as the uncouth sight of one's jaws constantly working." — Robert Klara, Adweek.com, 3 Oct. 2016
"No, I'm not some sort of barbarian who would open a bottle of wine to enjoy some before offering it as a gift. That would be uncouth." — Irv Erdos, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Dec. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete a word for a clumsy and uncouth person from the country: c _ o _ h _ _ p _ r.VIEW THE ANSWER
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