From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English wẹ̄ldī, weldy (agile, vigorous; of a shield: easy or satisfying to wield),[1] from wẹ̄lden, welde (to govern, preside over, reign, rule; to command, control, dominate; to dwell, reside; to accomplish, bring about; to overcome, prevail; to handle (a tool, weapon, etc.), use),[2] from Old English wylde (controlling, dominant), from Proto-Germanic *waldiz (manageable; powerful), possibly ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂welh₁- (to rule; powerful, strong); analysable as wield +‎ -y. Later uses of sense 2 (“capable of being easily wielded”) are likely a back-formation from unwieldy.[3]



wieldy (comparative wieldier, superlative wieldiest)

  1. (obsolete except British, dialectal) Able to wield one's body well; active, dexterous.
    Synonyms: agile, nimble, vigorous
    • 1751, [Tobias] Smollett, “The Doctor Prepares an Entertainment in the Manner of the Ancients, which is Attended with Divers Ridiculous Circumstances”, in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), London: Harrison and Co., [], →OCLC, page 131:
      But the baron, who was neither ſo wieldy nor ſupple in his joints as his companions, flounced himſelf down with ſuch precipitation, that his feet ſuddenly tilting up, came in furious contact with the head of the marquis, []
    • 1868 November, “Her Winning Ways. A Novel.”, in William Harrison Ainsworth, editor, The New Monthly Magazine, volume CXLIII, number DLXXV, London: Hard Bentley, [], →OCLC, chapter IX (Starved at a Feast), page 513:
      She bore the proportions of a marchioness all over; that is, was more wieldy than a duchess, more unwieldy than a countess. [] [T]he Marchioness of Clanweary was wieldy and limp; she moved herself surprisingly, and if not for too long together, was a good walker; but her feet were too small for her in the long run.
  2. Capable of being easily wielded or managed; handy.
    Synonyms: manageable, wieldsome
    Antonym: unwieldy
    • 1656, Peter Heylyn, “Our Journey down the Some, and Company. [...]”, in A Survey of the Estate of France, and of Some of the Adjoyning Ilands: [], Printed by E. Coates for Henry Seile, [], →OCLC, page 183:
      July the 30. we took boat to go down to Abbeville, by the river of Some; a river of no great breadth, but deep and full; the boat which carryed us was much of the making of thoſe Lighters which live on the Thames, but that is was made more wieldie and fit for ſpeed.
    • 1680, Geo[rge] Delgarno, “The Introduction, with a Key to the Following Discourse”, in Didascalocophus or The Deaf and Dumb Mans Tutor, [], Oxford: Printed at the Theater, →OCLC:
      About twenty years agoe, I publiſhed, Latiali but rudi Minerva, a Synopſis of a Philoſophical Grammar and Lexicon; [] deſigning not only to remedie the confuſion of Languages, by giving a much more eaſie medium of communication than any yet known; but alſo to cure even Philoſophy it ſelf of the diſeaſe of Sophiſms, and Logomachies; as alſo to provide her with more wieldy and manageable Inſtruments of operation, for defining, dividing, demonſtrating, &c.
    • 1809 December, “Dleifyarb” [pseudonym], “On Popular Sporting Amusements”, in The Sporting Magazine or Monthly Calendar, of the Transactions of the Turf, the Chase, and Every Other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize & Spirit, volume XXXV, number CCVII, London: Printed for J[ohn] Wheble, [], published 1810, →OCLC, page 128, column 2:
      In former ages, the quarter-staff was a formidable weapon— [] To this heavy staff succeeded the lighter single-stick, or cudgel, which was more wieldy, portable, and elegant.
    • 1821, “The Universe. A Poem. By the Rev. C. R. Maturin. [review]”, in The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, volume I, number I, London: Henry Colburn and Co. [], →OCLC, page 712:
      We take leave of Mr. [Charles Robert] Maturin, wishing to see his agreeable genius exercised on wieldier subjects than the Universe, and objecting to that theme, to borrow two of his own expressions, "most chiefly" on account of its "vastitude."
    • 1960 August – 1961 January, The Motor, volume 118, London: Temple Press, →OCLC, page 484, column 2:
      I realized a split second too late that for perhaps 70 yards the surface was coated with slime, evidently deposited by farm carts crossing between staggered gates on opposite sides of the road. The car I was driving, not the wieldiest of vehicles, started to slide.
    • 1964, Thomas C. Croker, Jr., Two H-C Furrow Seeders (U.S. Forest Service Research Note; SO-5), New Orleans, La.: Southern Forest Experiment Station, Forest Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, →OCLC, page 1:
      This machine requires more power than the compact model, is less wieldy, and is somewhat more difficult to keep in adjustment.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ wẹ̄ldī, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 1 December 2018.
  2. ^ wẹ̄lden, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 1 December 2018.
  3. ^ wieldy, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1924; wieldy”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.