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A woman with arms akimbo.


From Middle English in kenebowe, in kene bowe (in a keen bow”, i.e. “in a sharp bend or angle), from in (in) + keen, kene (brave, keen, sharp) + bowe (bow, bend). Alternately, possibly from Old Norse keng (bent) + bogi (a bow), compare Icelandic kengboginn (bow-bent).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /əˈkɪm.bəʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈkɪ͡ʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪmbəʊ


akimbo (not comparable)

  1. With a crook or bend; with the hand on the hip and elbow turned outward.
    • 1892, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle:
      "Now, then, mister," said he, with his head cocked and his arms akimbo, "what are you driving at? Let's have it straight, now."
    • 1921, Lydia Clark, Physical Training for the Elementary Schools: Gymnastics, Games, and Rhythmic Plays‎, page 66:
      Girls take hold of the skirts; boys place the hands akimbo, bend forward from the waist, and bow.
    • 2004, Zirka Z. Filipczak, "Poses and Passions: Mona Lisa's 'Closely Folded' Hands", in G K Paster, et al. (eds.) Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays in the Cultural History of Emotion‎, page 83.
      Men preferred one pose above all others, namely, the elbow akimbo.

Usage notesEdit

  • Almost always used after the noun modified.



akimbo (not comparable)

  1. Into, in, or of the position where the arms are akimbo.
    The man was standing akimbo.
    • 1903, Emily Constance Baird Cook, Highways and byways in London‎, page 430:
      Otherwise, it is likely that she may be accosted as "dear" or "Sally,"—invited to take "a drop o' tea," or otherwise chaffed by rough women standing akimbo at street doors.
    • 1978, Padma Upadhyaya, Female Images in the Museums of Uttar Pradesh, page 272:
      ...and the other end window bearing the figure of a woman standing akimbo with her right hand touching her right temple.

Related termsEdit


Further readingEdit