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Akimbo describes a body position where hands are on hips and the elbows are out wide. It is an appositive, which means it is an adjective that always follows the noun it modifies, such as arms akimbo.

Recently there has been a rise in using akimbo in reference to almost anything that is splayed out or haphazardly arranged. The phrase legs akimbo means the legs are haphazardly splayed.

The word comes, not from another language, but from Old English a kembow. It is most likely a variation on an Old Norse phrase, which meant to be shaped as a horseshoe.


Mr Simusamba said the UPND would not stand with its arms akimbo and continue watching the ruling party violate the electoral rules with impunity. [Lusaka Times]

The plan is to arrange the badger legs akimbo, with flippers on its paws to allow it to steer and dive down. [Mirror]

Performed by Blackface Family, Poztv Yut, Emperor K and Thiggo Amplifier, the song tackles the controversial infernos razing markets in Malawi and how such fires leave a multitude of traders hands akimbo without a means of earning a living. [Nyasa Times]

Across the screen scroll bodies, akimbo; they glide upon the explosion like crafts on the ocean, peppered every so often with fragments of glass and wood. [Huffington Post]

Everything has a relationship to the conventional, but it’s all slightly akimbo in a way to hopefully make the viewer aware of it — like I make the titles too long or too short, and I hang the pictures lower than normal. [New York Magazine]