Definitions

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

  • adj. Lacking grace or ease of movement or form; clumsy.
  • adj. Difficult to move or use; unwieldy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. clumsy; lacking grace.
  • adj. difficult to move or to manage; unwieldy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not gainly; not expert or dexterous; clumsy; awkward; uncouth.
  • adj. Unsuitable; unprofitable.
  • adv. In an ungainly manner.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Unfit; vain.
  • Awkward; clumsy; uncouth: as, an ungainly carriage.
  • Synonyms Uncouth, Bungling, etc. See awkward and clumsy.
  • In an awkward manner; clumsily; uncouthly.

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

  • adj. difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape
  • adj. lacking grace in movement or posture

Etymologies

un-1 + obsolete gainly, proper (from Middle English gainli, from gain, from Old Norse gegn, direct).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From un- + Old Norse gegnĀ ("fit, honest") + -ly. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We must keep our girls from contact with all that is coarse and debasing; must teach them to behave properly at home and abroad; and not to sit and lounge about or stand in ungainly attitudes; and read books which serve only to inflame the passions, and not to improve either mind or manners.

    A Manual of Etiquette with Hints on Politeness and Good Breeding

  • Jacqueline, but we had always called her Jack, for brevity, and because, with her cropped head and rough ways, she resembled a boy more than a girl; her hair was growing now, and hung about her neck in short ungainly lengths, but I doubt whether in its present stage it was any improvement.

    Esther : a book for girls

  • On an analysis based on, you know, around airports, where could a man with a pipe-like device, which is kind of ungainly and big and long and has a signature, where could that person just stand upright or even be in a kind of concealed position and let one of these missiles go?

    CNN Transcript Jun 1, 2002

  • Consumer Reports said the Tahoe's handling was "ungainly" and its stopping distances too long.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • Simone: Dania "doesn't love" it; Nigel calls it "ungainly" and lacking sensuality; Tyra thinks she could be stronger

    All - Digital Spy - Entertainment and Media News

  • Cowell called her performance "ungainly" and "gimmicky" and he hated her outfit.

    TV Envy

  • The thing that is ungainly, vulnerable, embarrassing.

    I Am Sorry to Inform You

  • This is fundamentally the story of Morry Abbot, the most awkward, ungainly and emotionally disadvantaged of them all.

    Small Town Dreaming « Tales from the Reading Room

  • It was 1917 when aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss built his Autoplane, an ugly, ungainly thing that really did fly.

    Where is my flying car?

  • At one point, four stylists were clustered around me, conferring like a bunch of surgeons over an ungainly and inoperable tumor.

    Only My Hairdresser Knows For Sure

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