clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Definition of clumsy

1a : lacking dexterity, nimbleness, or grace clumsy fingers
b : lacking tact or subtlety a clumsy joke
2 : awkward or inefficient in use or construction : unwieldy a clumsy contraption criticized her sentence for its clumsy construction

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Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ ˈkləm-​zə-​lē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \ adverb
clumsiness \ ˈkləm-​zē-​nəs How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clumsy

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of clumsy in a Sentence

I'm sorry about spilling your wine—that was very clumsy of me. I have very clumsy hands and tend to drop things. She made a clumsy attempt at a joke.
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Recent Examples on the Web But these labels are clumsy and imprecise—and getting more so all the time. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 14 Oct. 2021 Then, as now, the debt ceiling was a clumsy and ineffective tool to impose thrift. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 12 Oct. 2021 And there’s a way of doing that that can be clumsy and flattening. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 5 Oct. 2021 Yet Dickie keeps on killing, and his efforts to keep Tony honest prove obliviously clumsy and counterproductive. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 Oct. 2021 Language is stilted, language processing limited, and the assistants’ situational awareness is clumsy or non-existent. Ariane Lafolie, Fortune, 1 Oct. 2021 The product may still matter and demand may still exist, but your process may be clumsy and outmoded. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 Strong-willed, feisty, funny, brave, hopeful, clumsy and awkward are all words that might describe Anna, the lovably idiosyncratic character in Disney ’s 2013 hit Frozen. Fiorella Valdesolo, WSJ, 23 Aug. 2021 But Lance looked clumsy and unsure, and got sacked. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Aug. 2021

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

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clumsy

probably from obsolete English clumse benumbed with cold

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Time Traveler for clumsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for clumsy



English Language Learners Definition of clumsy

: moving or doing things in a very awkward way and tending to drop or break things
: badly or awkwardly made or done
: hard to use : awkward to handle


clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Kids Definition of clumsy

1 : lacking skill or grace in movement clumsy fingers
2 : awkwardly or carelessly made or done a clumsy apology a clumsy error
3 : awkward to handle a clumsy package

Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ -​zə-​lē \ adverb
clumsiness \ -​zē-​nəs \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on clumsy

Nglish: Translation of clumsy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clumsy for Arabic Speakers


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