“Legs akimbo” is a phrase used so much it has become a cliché, and clichés are obviously something to be avoided if you want to create interesting, vivid writing. But you should also be aware that “legs akimbo” is logically meaningless.
According to the OED, “akimbo” means :
“with hands on the hips and elbows turned outwards” (origin, probably from Old Norse).
It might just be possible to achieve such a stance in a Science Fiction story (if an alien had arms protruding from its legs), but otherwise, you simply can’t stand “legs akimbo”.
Of course, as with many questions of grammar, it could be argued that it doesn’t matter that words are being used incorrectly, so long as the reader understands what the writer meant. It’s a long-running debate. Language is constantly evolving and new meanings are always emerging. But writers need to be aware of the technically correct usage of words because they need to write in different voices. If, say, they are writing a piece of colloquial dialogue, “legs akimbo” might well be fine, if that’s the sort of thing the character might say. If, however, they were writing in an authoritative, narrative voice, or penning a query letter to a publisher, then the phrase should clearly not be used.
Quite how you could get the phrase “legs akimbo” into a query letter to a publisher, meanwhile, is another matter …
Want to improve your English in 5 minutes a day? Click here to subscribe and start receiving our writing tips and exercises via email every day.
Recommended Articles for You
Subscribe to Receive our Articles and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!