Definition of clumsy in English:



  • 1Awkward in movement or in handling things.

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