Definition of clumsy in English:



  • 1Awkward in movement or in handling things.

    ‘the cold made his fingers clumsy’
    • ‘Its movements are clumsy and relatively uncoordinated.’
    • ‘A few minutes later I heard the clumsy movements of my mother rushing out of the room.’
    • ‘The bear was big and frightening, but his clumsy movements made people laugh.’
    • ‘The girls were running and giggling at the same time, making them clumsy in their movements and me even angrier.’
    • ‘Fumbling, my fingers clumsy and slow, I fought with the buttons on his soaking-wet shirt.’
    • ‘When the shot broke, I tried to run the bolt quickly and prepare for a follow up, as we had practiced, but my hands were suddenly awkward and clumsy.’
    • ‘Hand movements may become clumsy and the person may find it difficult to even to fasten buttons.’
    • ‘I was astonished, when reading his memoirs, to learn that such a polished and poised fellow had never lost the sense that he was awkward and clumsy.’
    • ‘On the other hand, I always was a clumsy, accident-prone little boy.’
    • ‘Last year I was daft enough to get the guy to help me with the counter top and the clumsy fellow managed to gouge a great chunk out of the kitchen wall.’
    • ‘As the clumsy little boy approached he tripped, and fell into his waiting arms.’
    • ‘Frantically, she scrambled back through the ventilation shaft, haste making her movements clumsy and loud.’
    • ‘I'm so completely clumsy and incapable of handling a sword or a gun that I just gave up on it.’
    • ‘But left-handers are renowned for being awkward and clumsy and in some societies they are still looked upon with suspicion.’
    • ‘I was never a good thief; I was clumsy, awkward, and too loud when I tried to take things.’
    • ‘The child may look dazed, and his or her movements may be clumsy.’
    • ‘I was in a strange land, where small, clumsy, country boys were not appreciated.’
    • ‘Their movements are clumsy, but they can open doors and remove objects from closets and drawers.’
    • ‘As it rocks from side to side, a walking penguin may look clumsy, but its movements are actually quite efficient.’
    • ‘He is an awkward, clumsy boy in the community.’
    • ‘He would smile mysteriously at her, or look at her with a new kind of interest that made her feel awkward and clumsy around him.’
    awkward, uncoordinated, ungainly, graceless, ungraceful, inelegant, gawky, gauche, gangling, cloddish, blundering, lumbering
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    1. 1.1Done awkwardly or without skill.
      ‘a very clumsy attempt to park’
      • ‘For instance, when we learn to drive a car, our initial attempts are clumsy and full of errors.’
      • ‘This clumsy attempt at democracy has soured the population.’
      • ‘There's only so much space for awkward dialogue and clumsy exposition when you have to cram a movie full of fight scenes.’
      • ‘The characters appear out of nowhere and act as little more than clumsy devices to move the plot along and reveal the truth behind mysteries set up elsewhere.’
      • ‘The clumsy frame-up attempt was as stupid as it was shortsighted.’
      • ‘It is an attempt, and a clumsy attempt, to codify the present criminal law.’
      • ‘These categories are clumsy and incomplete, but I'm hoping you can deduce what I mean for the sake of brevity here.’
      • ‘I made this clumsy, half-hearted suicide attempt about a year ago.’
      • ‘‘Being a hippy’ was just a clumsy attempt to give expression to those moments of spirituality he had experienced since childhood.’
      • ‘A smaller boy on the other side of the path was laughing as some of my clumsy attempts to be ‘lady like’.’
      • ‘This clumsy pastiche may please its creator, but the difficulty with any ‘me-film’ is that you're only guaranteed an audience of one.’
      • ‘It comes off as a clumsy storytelling device and suggests a more general weakness with the criminology aspects of the film.’
      • ‘But these clumsy attempts to prevent its publication only promoted the swift growth of interest in the book.’
      • ‘The hints too had been so heavy and so clumsy that journalists well versed in the field of arms control were beginning to guess who it could be.’
      • ‘With this uncharacteristically clumsy device the author seems to be trying to relate his novel to public events, and trying too hard.’
      • ‘This was a clumsy amateurish attempt by two students.’
      • ‘He also uses the clumsy narrative device of the flashback in attempt to generate a sense of depth in the relationship.’
      • ‘His downfall came only when he made a clumsy and inept attempt to forge her will, to claim her legacy for himself.’
      • ‘The extraordinarily clumsy and transparent attempt to bury the issue failed, however, resulting in a further inquiry and the present trials.’
      • ‘It is difficult to believe that such clumsy moments derive from even a very early work by the great composer.’
      • ‘The shooting appears to be a clumsy attempt to provoke violence that would justify their continued presence in the country.’
      • ‘The performances are flat and wooden; the writing is clumsy and unlikely to keep any child interested for more than a few minutes.’
      awkward, uncoordinated, ungainly, graceless, ungraceful, inelegant, gawky, gauche, gangling, cloddish, blundering, lumbering
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    2. 1.2Difficult to handle or use; unwieldy.
      ‘clumsy devices’
      ‘the legal procedure is far too clumsy’
      • ‘The reason seems to be that they are clumsy and difficult to manoeuvre.’
      • ‘Place my first mobile phone next to my present one, and you see light years of difference: the old one is bulky and clumsy.’
      • ‘Iron ploughs engineered to reduce soil resistance replaced clumsy wooden ones, increasing ploughing productivity.’
      • ‘The outer wooden framework, which is clumsy and heavy and painted grey, protects and cages the garland.’
      • ‘With their clumsy wooden carts, they cleared the refuse from the streets and cleaned the open drains bordering its streets.’
      • ‘No one could maintain that furious, driving rhythm - not with something as massive and clumsy as a two-handed sword!’
      • ‘Also, larger oars were heavy and clumsy to maneuver and required multiple oarsmen.’
      • ‘It looked and felt so clumsy, so unwieldy, so…… artificial.’
      • ‘They must have been clumsy and difficult to manoeuvre as well.’
      • ‘If the skis are too long, they will be clumsy and awkward.’
      • ‘The weapon and its ammunition will be too heavy and clumsy for general issue and its cost per weapon and ammunition will be huge.’
      • ‘These clumsy wood snowshoes were heavy and made walking almost impossible.’
      • ‘Here's an alternative to clumsy, heavy snow chains.’
      • ‘They were difficult to conceal, clumsy, expensive to manufacture, and required bulky ammunition which created stowage and logistics problems.’
      unwieldy, unmanageable, cumbersome, bulky, hulking, heavy, solid, awkward, unmanoeuvrable
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    3. 1.3Lacking social skills; tactless.
      ‘his choice of words was clumsy’
      • ‘Eventually, I made our excuses and took her home, worried that I had ruined yet another woman's life with my clumsy social skills.’
      • ‘The film documents the clumsy and difficult courtship.’
      • ‘His characters are often awkward and clumsy, expressing people's inability to communicate.’
      • ‘Simple self promotion is jarring, far too revealing and far too blunt, gauche, clumsy, and vulgar.’
      • ‘There were awkward speeches saying kind and clumsy things, gauche jokes and real fondness.’
      • ‘I am pretty clumsy and awkward but I try real hard never to trespass in a way that would be offensive to a place.’
      • ‘Alex, with his clumsy manners, his awkward yet almost sweet behavior… and his captivating personality.’
      • ‘His retaliations are clumsy and awkward in comparison.’
      • ‘In the end, the organization looks clumsy and amateurish.’
      • ‘But, at the heart of this argument, I have reached the conclusion that I'm a slightly clumsy, rather ineffectual speaker.’
      • ‘In a complex of lonely and socially clumsy bachelors, disheartened by too many rejections, she was news.’
      • ‘I was far too clumsy in social situations to attempt a visit, not even to apologize for something that had been plaguing me with guilt all day.’
      • ‘The words fell out of his mouth in a clumsy, awkward fashion that instantly made him regret talking at all.’
      • ‘I mean, it was clumsy the way they handled it.’
      gauche, awkward, graceless, unpolished, unsubtle, crude, uncouth, boorish, crass
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Late 16th century: from obsolete clumse ‘make or be numb’, probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Swedish klumsig.