uncouth

adjective
un·​couth | \ ən-ˈküth How to pronounce uncouth (audio) \

Definition of uncouth

1a : awkward and uncultivated in appearance, manner, or behavior : rude
b : lacking in polish and grace : rugged uncouth verse
c : strange or clumsy in shape or appearance : outlandish
2a archaic : not known or not familiar to one : seldom experienced : uncommon, rare
b obsolete : mysterious, uncanny

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Other Words from uncouth

uncouthly adverb
uncouthness noun

History of Uncouth: From Unfamiliar to Outlandish

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.

Examples of uncouth in a Sentence

People thought he was uncouth and uncivilized. will not tolerate any uncouth behavior, such as eating with one's mouth open
Recent Examples on the Web These superimpositions clash chaos against intellectuality, letting the joy of uncouth celebration best sophistication. Armond White, National Review, 1 Oct. 2021 Perhaps it’s because the lamp is associated with uncouth frat houses, fire hazards, and toxic chemicals. Diana Budds, Curbed, 24 Sep. 2021 There's really no obvious downside to the compression-ignition Suburban—no uncouth clatter, no dearth of power, no huge price penalty. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 20 Aug. 2021 The uninhibited and occasionally uncouth Frank and Jackie manage to embarrass Ruby in front of Miles, but there isn’t much doubt where things are headed. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Although some Volvos can exhibit a sharp, flinty ride, our test car's air springs helped lend it a comfortable comportment that never felt uncouth. Annie White, Car and Driver, 16 July 2021 To head off political embarrassment, the aide of a gubernatorial candidate shepherds his boss’s uncouth brother. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 To head off political embarrassment, the aide of a gubernatorial candidate shepherds his boss’s uncouth brother. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021 To head off political embarrassment, the aide of a gubernatorial candidate shepherds his boss’s uncouth brother. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2021

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for uncouth

Middle English, from Old English uncūth, from un- + cūth familiar, known; akin to Old High German kund known, Old English can know — more at can entry 1

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Time Traveler for uncouth

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The first known use of uncouth was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near uncouth

uncourtly

uncouth

uncovenanted

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncouth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncouth. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for uncouth

uncouth

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of uncouth

: behaving in a rude way : not polite or socially acceptable

uncouth

adjective
un·​couth | \ ˌən-ˈküth How to pronounce uncouth (audio) \

Kids Definition of uncouth

: impolite in conduct or speech : crude uncouth manners uncouth people

More from Merriam-Webster on uncouth

Nglish: Translation of uncouth for Spanish Speakers

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