An 1864 map of part of the Mississippi River, showing how sinuous it is
A newborn Colorado Desert sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes laterorepens) in Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, moving across sand in a sinuous manner


Borrowed from Latin sinuōsus.


  • IPA(key): /ˈsɪn.ju.əs/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: sin‧u‧ous


sinuous (comparative more sinuous, superlative most sinuous)

  1. Having curves in alternate directions; meandering.
    We followed every bend of the sinuous river.
    • 1862, Robert Mallet, Great Neapolitan Earthquake of 1857: The First Principles of Observational Seismology as Developed in the Report to the Royal Society of London of the Expedition Made by Command of the Society into the Interior of the Kingdom of Naples, to Investigate the Circumstances of the Great Earthquake of December 1857. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Chapman & Hall, page 276:
      [W]hen a transverse, or, within certain limits, an oblique impulse, impinges laterally upon a continuous mountain range, two movements of vibration are communicated; the one, a wave transmitted along and in the line of the axis, the other a transverse wave, which causes the axial line to sway laterally, and transmit a quam prox. horizontal transverse wave, along from one end to the other; like the sinuous movement which travels along a long rope when, hanging suspended between two points at the same level, it is jerked suddenly at one end, transversely to its length.
    • 1898, H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, London: William Heinemann, page 300:
      [A] peculiar luminous and sinuous marking appeared on the unillumined half of the inner planet, and almost simultaneously a faint dark mark of a similar sinuous character was detected upon a photograph of the Martian disc.
    • 1922, E[dith] Nesbit, The Lark, London: Hutchinson, OCLC 39542813:
      The way through the wood was shorter, but it was also sinuous. He missed his way, and, as a direct consequence, missed his train.
    • 2016 March 28, Jack Cooke, “Heaven up here: the joy of urban tree climbing”, in The Guardian[1], archived from the original on 25 April 2016:
      This is the perfect climbing tree: wrought by two centuries of good London living, its sinuous spread presents any number of routes into the canopy.
  2. Moving gracefully and in a supple manner.
    We were entranced by her sinuous dance.
    • 1912, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World[2]:
      Once a dark, clumsy tapir stared at us from a gap in the bushes, and then lumbered away through the forest; once, too, the yellow, sinuous form of a great puma whisked amid the brushwood, and its green, baleful eyes glared hatred at us over its tawny shoulder.
  3. (figuratively) Morally crooked; shifty.
    • 2000, Christopher Hitchens, No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton:
      On 16 December 1999, Lanny Davis, one of the President's more sinuous apologists, was asked on an MSNBC chat show to address the issue and replied that Ms. Broaddrick had been adjudged unreliable by the FBI.



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