Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking physical coordination, skill, or grace; awkward.
  • adj. Awkwardly constructed; unwieldy: clumsy wooden shoes; a clumsy sentence.
  • adj. Gauche; inept: a clumsy excuse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. awkward, lacking coordination, not graceful, not dextrous
  • adj. Not elegant or well-planned, lacking tact or subtlety
  • adj. awkward or inefficient in use or construction, difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape
  • n. A clumsy person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Stiff or benumbed, as with cold.
  • adj. Without skill or grace; wanting dexterity, nimbleness, or readiness; stiff; awkward, as if benumbed; unwieldy; unhandy; hence; ill-made, misshapen, or inappropriate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Stiffened with cold; benumbed.
  • Acting as if benumbed; awkward; ungainly; unhandy; uncouth; without expertness, dexterity, tact, or grace: as, a clumsy workman; a clumsy wooer.
  • Manifesting awkwardness; ill-contrived or ill-managed; awkwardly combined, arranged, or used: as, a clumsy movement; clumsy sentences.
  • So made as to be unwieldy in certain or in all uses; heavily built; large and heavy; not manageable, light, or graceful.
  • Awkward in appearance or use; unfamiliar; anomalous; outré.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape
  • adj. showing lack of skill or aptitude
  • adj. lacking grace in movement or posture
  • adj. not elegant or graceful in expression

Etymologies

From obsolete clumse, to be numb with cold, from Middle English clomsen, of Scandinavian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Cannon has now apologized for what he calls his clumsy shorthand, saying he meant he wasn't to provide more news and information about the church.

    CNN Transcript Jun 22, 2008

  • Instead, an old wooden pane was hung on its metal gate and bore the company's name in clumsy handwriting -- New Asia Strong Biochemical LTD.

    Xiu Min Li: "Look for Self-Help in Time of Disaster, Not the Party"

  • The film lurches forward in clumsy and confusing sequences, with overacting and illogical behavior ruling the roost.

    Current Movie Reviews, Independent Movies - Film Threat

  • It began as a kind of mockery of the music, this dancing that we did, leaping across the living room, prancing over the sofa and the chairs and raising our hands in clumsy ballet poses; but soon, we began to play this record and bellow out the melody, the shift in instrumentation — the movements, the various parts the dialogue between firsts and seconds and so on, while leaping about the place.

    Music : Kwame Dawes : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • He noticed the rest of us cracking up over the "No Justice/No Quiche" Free Martha t-shirts -- I had a really hard time explaining (in clumsy Spanish) the concept of quiche, and how the word quiche had nothing to do with the Quiché Maya people, who Martha Stewart was, and how all of this related to protest slogans from the American civil rights movement.

    Boing Boing: March 28, 2004 - April 3, 2004 Archives

  • The workmen were surprised to get a visitor and willingly showed me around the six enormous cell blocks which radiate in clumsy spokes from a central courtyard and administration building.

    Burma

  • It would be a brave man who would predict that such a process will always remain clumsy, slow, and faulty in detail.

    As We May Think

  • She gave him her hand, and he took it with a certain clumsy gallantry and raised it to his lips.

    Lady Molly of Scotland Yard

  • Some of the men had walked thirty and forty miles to reach the convention, while the women and babies were jolted over rough roads in clumsy ox-carts.

    Daughters of India

  • The latter was not a master in the art of writing, and responded only in short clumsy sentences, but Nejdanov had no need of lengthy replies; he knew quite well that his friend swallowed every word of his, as the dust in the road swallows each drop of rain, that he would keep his secrets sacredly, and that in his hopeless solitude he had no other interests but his, Nejdanov's, interests.

    Virgin Soil

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