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Definition: Lacking adroitness; bumbling and inept.

Pronunciation: Mal-ah-droy-t


The first known usage of maladroit was in 1685.  It is a combination of the words mal (Latin for bad or wrong) and adroitAdroit was derived in the 1650’s initially from the French phrase “a droit” or “according to the right”, which was derived from the Latin word directum for right or justice.

Why this word?

Because it sounds cool.  At least to me.  For whatever reason, the word maladroit originally made me think of an evil robot when I first came across it as a child.  I’m not sure in what context I first read it but that was my first impression.  Now as an adult I know the definition to be somewhat different but the word nevertheless intrigues me.  The ominous overtones of the prefix mal- followed by the completely everyday sound and definition of adroit combine to make a word that rolls neatly off the tongue as well as providing an excellent literary description.

How to use the word maladroit in a sentence?

“His maladroit handling of the original predicament is what landed us in our current trouble.  Clearly he cannot be trusted with a difficult task.”

“At the very core of his personality is a maladroit nature that seemingly cannot accustom itself to its environment, destined instead to constantly bumble and crash into his surroundings and fellow humans throughout his life without hope for improvement.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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