Printable Version
Pronunciation: ên-weel-dee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Not easily handled, managed, or manipulated; cumbersome because of size, shape, weight, or complexity.

Notes: Here is a word often perceived as an orphan negative. It isn't. Wieldy, meaning "(easily) manageable, handleable", is a perfectly good word. It comes with an adverb, unwieldily, and a noun, unwieldiness. In fact, if you don't mind sounding a bit behind the times, it has a rarely used synonym, unwieldsome.

In Play: This adjective works with anything so large it has become awkward to handle: "The corporation had become unwieldy as a result of purchasing so many companies without integrating them." It applies to abstract as well as concrete ideas: "Ty Kuhn's life was so cumbersome with unwieldy wealth, that he had become alienated from his family."

Word History: Today's Good Word obviously comprises un- + wieldy, which comes from an shortened form of Old English geweald "ruled, controlled", the past participle of wealden "to rule, control". The Old English word descended from PIE wal- "to be strong", so the English word is cousin to German walten "to prevail, rule", and more distantly related to Latin valere "be strong, able", Welsh gwlad "country, nation", Lithuanian valdyti "to manage, rule", and Latvian valdīt "to rule, reign". Proto-Slavic applied metathesis to produce Czech vláda "goverment, rule", Russian vlast' "power", and Serbian vlast "power". (Today's deceptive Good Word was proposed by wordmaster William Hupy in the Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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