Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Akimbo

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is akimbo. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Akimbo means “having the hand on the hip and the elbow turned outward.” It is also used in the broader sense of “set in a bent position.”

// The model, arms akimbo, struck a pose at the end of the runway.

AKIMBO in Context

“When these little frogs jump, they leap spectacularly, their airborne bodies imbued with all hope…. In their final descent, the toadlets sometimes reach for a handhold, but the effort is for naught. They crash to the ground, arms akimbo, landing not on their forelimbs with grace, but on their butt, their belly, their back, their head, in bouncing-beach-ball defeat.” — Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 15 June 2022

Did You Know?

It’s akimbo nowadays, but in Middle English, the adverbial phrase in kenebowe was used for the bent, hand-on-hip arm (or later, for any bent position). Originally, the term was fairly neutral, but now saying that a person is standing with “arms akimbo” implies a posture that communicates defiance, confidence, aggressiveness, or arrogance.

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