Definitions

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

  • adj. Difficult to carry or manage because of size, shape, weight, or complexity: an unwieldy parcel; an unwieldy bureaucracy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. lacking strength; weak
  • adj. ungraceful in movement
  • adj. difficult to carry, handle, manage or operate because of its size, weight, shape or complexity
  • adj. badly managed or operated

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not easily wielded or carried; unmanageable; bulky; ponderous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Movable or moving with difficulty; unmanageable from size, shape, or weight; lacking pliability: as, an unwieldy hulk; an unwieldy rock.

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

  • adj. difficult to work or manipulate
  • adj. difficult to use or handle or manage because of size or weight or shape
  • adj. lacking grace in movement or posture

Etymologies

From Middle English unweldi, equivalent to un- +‎ wieldy. Cognate with Middle Low German unweldich ("unwieldy"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • (Compare that with the approach of the Federal Communications Commission, which allows only limited searching of filings and comments; or that of the Department of Justice, which puts out data on foreign lobbying in unwieldy PDF format and binders.)

    iGov

  • I saw one day a herd of a dozen bullocks and cows running about and frisking in unwieldy sport, like huge rats, even like kittens.

    Walking

  • The title is unwieldy, but the book—set in present-day Guyana—is a deft synthesis of travelogue and Bildungsroman, by turns antic and introspective.

    Cheeshahteaumauk, Class of '65 (1665)

  • Fans of the original surely recall the unwieldy and annoying mini-game that was more enjoyable if you had auto-hack tools or just bought them out with Ryanbucks.

    Gaming Target

  • Then came the idea of the ‘post-bureaucratic age’ — in itself the kind of unwieldy phrase you might expect a bureaucrat to use.

    John Rentoul today puts Trevor Kavanagh and myself in the...

  • Eugenie Allen says Leslie "doesn't do this loaded issue justice, '' because she" uses a battering ram '' to make her points, and so The Feminine Mistake is "unwieldy" and "polarizing."

    Jeremy Gerard: You Say Mystique, I Say Mistake

  • There is something thoroughly modernist about Burtynsky's work, the grand scale, the glorious detail, a kind of unwieldy whole.

    Archive 2006-09-01

  • The piece arrived in early December as an "unwieldy" first draft, Mr. Marzorati said: roughly 13,000 words.

    Off The Record

  • He saw the 'unwieldy' Privileges Committee and its party divisions as part of the problem, not the answer.

    Betty Bothroyd The Autobiography

  • The back story is unwieldy, that is true – and although I am not a huge fan of flashbacks, they are the best way I’ve found to deal with her history.

    Superhero Nation: how to write superhero novels and comic books » Manuscript Killers: Immortal Characters

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