We don’t mean to get you excited, but it’s official: the week is halfway over. So not only are you almost on your way to a free and relaxing weekend, but it’s also time for Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world!
Today’s wacky word is akimbo. Here’s the definition from TermWiki.com:
a position in which the hands are on the hips and the elbows are bowed outward
Used as both an adjective and an adverb, when akimbo is in its adjectival form, it goes against typical English syntax and is placed after the noun it’s describing—not before.
The etymology of this word is not altogether clear, but general consensus seems to date this word back to the 1400s when the word in kenebowe was used to describe something bent at a sharp angle. Unfortunately, the origin of this word is also unknown. Some posit that akimbo might also hail from the Icelandic keng boginn, which means “bent into a crook,” or the Middle English word a cam bow, meaning “in a crooked bow.” If only they had paternity tests for wacky words.
Regardless of akimbo’s questionable birth, during our research we came across a variety of surprising applications for this posture. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to slim down, why not take a hint from Agatha Christie—renowned supporter of all things lazy—and save yourself the trouble? Instead of working up a sweat, you can make yourself appear slimmer by standing akimbo, which pushes your shoulders back and down, causing them to seem less rounded. This stance also creates a gap between your arms and body, which aids in reducing the appearance of bulk.
Research also leads us to believe that akimbo can also be used to describe the sassy hands-on-hip action performed with a single arm. In 1873, the Daily Graphic, a New York newspaper, published a cartoon depiction of Susan B. Anthony on its cover, illustrating a reversal of gender roles with men standing in the background with babies and bags of groceries in tow. Anthony was described as “The Woman Who Dared,” an embodiment of strength, dominance, and power; she was drawn standing, wearing men’s boots and with one arm akimbo.
Before we part ways, here are two examples of akimbo used in a sentence:
- As Mr. Derbyshire stammered out an apology, Meg stood there, arms akimbo, boring through his remorseful face with her eyes.
- The photographer kept on insisting that she strike a more powerful pose, and Georgina, having heard enough, whipped out her arms akimbo and gave him a wet, resounding raspberry.
And that’s it for today’s Wacky Word Wednesday. When was the last time your arms went akimbo?
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