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From Middle English uncouth, from Old English uncūþ (unknown; unfamiliar; strange), from Proto-West Germanic *unkunþ, from Proto-Germanic *unkunþaz (unknown), equivalent to un- +‎ couth.


  • IPA(key): /ʌnˈkuːθ/
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -uːθ


uncouth (comparative uncouther or more uncouth, superlative uncouthest or most uncouth)

  1. (archaic) Unfamiliar, strange, foreign.
    Antonym: (obsolete) couth
    • c. 1598–1600 (date written), William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene vi], lines 882-94:
      If this uncouth
      forest yield anything savage, I will either be food for it or
      bring it for food to thee.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book V”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep
      Affects me equally; nor can I like
      This uncouth' dream, of evil sprung I fear []
    • 1819 June 23, Geoffrey Crayon [pseudonym; Washington Irving], “The Voyage”, in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., number I, New York, N.Y.: [] C. S. Van Winkle, [], →OCLC, page 14:
      There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe with which I looked down, from my giddy height, on the monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols.
  2. Clumsy, awkward.
    Synonym: fremd
  3. Unrefined, crude.
    Synonyms: impolite; see also Thesaurus:impolite
    Antonym: couth
    • 1699, Samuel Garth, The Dispensary, Canto IV, line 204:
      Harsh words, though pertinent, uncouth appear: / None please the fancy, who offend the ear.
    • 2014, James Lambert, “A Much Tortured Expression: A New Look At `Hobson-Jobson'”, in International Journal of Lexicography, volume 27, number 1, page 58:
      If Yule found it delightful, why did Kipling find it uncouth?
    • 2021 May 10, Ian Prasad Philbrick, quoting Brian Fallon, “‘We May Not Have a Full Two Years’: Democrats’ Plans Hinge on Good Health”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      “I don’t think it’s uncouth to talk about it. I think it’s a reality that has to inform the urgency with which we approach those issues.”

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From Middle English uncouth, from Old English uncūþ (unknown; unfamiliar; strange), from Proto-West Germanic *unkunþ.



  1. strange
      estraunge, uncouth;


  • Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 120