Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking in harmony; incompatible: a joke that was incongruous with polite conversation.
  • adj. Not in agreement, as with principles; inconsistent: a plan incongruous with reason.
  • adj. Not in keeping with what is correct, proper, or logical; inappropriate: incongruous behavior.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Not similar or congruent; not matching or fitting in.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not congruous; reciprocally disagreeing; not capable of harmonizing or readily assimilating; inharmonious; inappropriate; unsuitable; not fitting; inconsistent; improper

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not congruous; incapable of reciprocally fitting and agreeing; unsuited or unsuitable; inharmonious.
  • Consisting of inappropriate parts, or of parts not fitly put together; disjointed: as, an incongruous story.
  • Synonyms Inconsistent, etc. (see incompatible), unsuitable, unsuited, unfit, inappropriate, ill-matched, out of keeping.
  • In the theory of numbers, not congruent: thus, 7 and 8 are incongruous to the modulus 3, giving different remainders when divided by the modulus.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking in harmony or compatibility or appropriateness

Etymologies

From Latin incongruus : in-, not; see in-1 + congruus, congruous; see congruous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin incongruus, from in- ("not") + congruus ("congruent"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • On occasion, however, material, geographical, and emotional distance resulted in incongruous appropriations that were the result of images and meanings randomly and bizarrely associated with each other.

    'I Saw a Nightmare …' Doing Violence to Memory: The Soweto Uprising, June 16, 1976

  • People dig it when they see other people dancing in incongruous places.

    Boing Boing: August 29, 2004 - September 4, 2004 Archives

  • That night -- I call it that though the constant weak daylight made the term incongruous -- activity showed in the City of Ice.

    Tarrano the Conqueror

  • So composite and incongruous is this body of Nile-goers, young and old, well-dressed and ill-dressed, learned and unlearned, that the new-comer's first impulse is to inquire from what motives so many persons of dissimilar tastes and training can be led to embark upon an expedition which is, to say the least of it, very tedious, very costly, and of an altogether exceptional interest.

    A Thousand Miles Up the Nile

  • Briscoe eyed him sternly, the expression incongruous with the habitual aspect of his broad, jovial, florid face.

    The Ordeal A Mountain Romance of Tennessee

  • Sometimes, with mechs, a smile could transform the face into something even less human—the expression somehow incongruous on the synthetic lips, a quaint and unsettling party trick, like a dog propped at the dinner table with a fork and spoon.

    Crashed

  • These backstories give the characters weight and depth that informs their actions and doesn't feel incongruous, which is quite an achievement.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Randall Jarrell wrote that in war "the incongruous is the common-place homogenous texture of all life."

    A Photographer Best Known

  • In the years that followed that second christening, many changes had taken place in her that made the pet name incongruous.

    Gone with the Wind

  • He thinks, as Bataille did of Manet, that the only great art is "incongruous" or, better still, "disrespectful" -- concretely, disobeying the order of the world and of nature, inventive, unfaithful, insolent.

    Bernard-Henri Lévy: Run to See Jacques Martinez

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