I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which there was a sentence beginning:
"At least twenty dolls sat legs akimbo. . . "
I have always thought of "akimbo" as an adverb describing how one placed one's arms - hands on hips with elbows out.
Is Lisa simply using her poetic licence to amuse us or does U.S. usage allow the term to be applied to legs?
Actually, the derivation of the word seems uncertain; it's apparently from ME and possibly of Scandinavian origin. I've seen it compared with Icelandic "keng-boginn" (bent like a horseshoe).
Maybe someomne from that region (or a Yoga fan!)can tell us how to adopt the legs akimbo position.
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I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which there was a sentence beginning: "At least twenty dolls sat ... a horseshoe). Maybe someomne from that region (or a Yoga fan!)can tell us how to adopt the legs akimbo position.

This was discussed recently in aue.
The first message in the thread was:
http://groups.google.co.uk/group/alt.usage.english/msg/d40c4b5a104b3733

Click on the subject "Can legs be akimbo?" to see the complete thread.
The phrase "legs akimbo" is sometimes used in the US and elsewhere.

No one was clear as to what the users meant by it.

Two of the possibilities are:
sitting with feet together and knees apart mimicking the position of arms when akimbo,
or simply having the legs spread with the feet apart.

Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.english.usage)
I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which there was a sentence beginning: "At least twenty dolls sat legs akimbo. . . " I have always thought of "akimbo" as an adverb

adjective
describing how one placed one's arms - hands on hips with elbows out. Is Lisa simply using her poetic licence to amuse us or does U.S. usage allow the term to be applied to legs?

Why do you care only about US usage?
94% of the world is not American. Please don't be Americo-centric.

One dictionary says "(of other limbs) flung out widely or haphazardly"
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which there was a sentence beginning: "At least twenty dolls sat ... a horseshoe). Maybe someomne from that region (or a Yoga fan!)can tell us how to adopt the legs akimbo position.

I'd always thought 'legs akimbo' was perfectly good usage meaning to splay the legs, but The Guardian seems to think otherwise.

From the Guardian of 15th July 2006:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/corrections/story/0,,1821007,00.html

Michele Hanson, in a column headed The emperor's new clothes, page 19, G2, repeated the previously corrected error of referring to "legs akimbo". Arms may be akimbo, legs not. It has been corrected previously on the following dates: February 26 2002; December 12 2003; April 7 2005. The readers' editor devoted a column to it, Out on a limb, March 10 2001. Its use is proscribed by the Guardian styleguide (see the entry for the correct use Arms akimbo)

Peter Jones
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Actually, if Wikipedia has got it right, about 67% of "first-language native English speakers" ARE American!
But the only reason I mentioned the U.S. is that that's where Lisa Scottoline lives and writes.
Thanks anyway.
I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which there was a sentence beginning: "At least twenty dolls sat legs akimbo. . . "

I assume that she meant the position that I would
describe as cross-legged or Indian style.
GFH
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I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which there was a sentence beginning: "At least twenty dolls sat legs akimbo. . . "

I assume that she meant the position that I would describe as cross-legged or Indian style.

OED says of the derivation:
(Deriv. unknown. Prof. Skeat (Append.) gives a suggestion of Magnussen, comparing the earliest known forms with Icel. keng-boginn, -it, 'crooked' (Vigfusson), lit. 'bent staple-wise, or in a horse-shoe curve'; other suggestions are a cambok in the manner of a crooked stick (ME. cambok, med.L. cambGca, see cammock); a cam bow in a crooked bow. None of these satisfies all conditions.)
I can't see anything that makes it impossible for the term to refer to legs. Indeed, if it were to be taken axiomatically that the term referred only to arms, why is there not a phrase "He stood / sat akimbo"? It seems to be found as " ... stood / sat with arms akimbo" and if the arms have to be specified, why can we not imagine the term could apply to other limbs? The earliest from seems to be "in kenebowe" and the OED's earliest cites are " c1400 Beryn 1837 The hoost+set his hond in kenebowe." and " 1611 Cotgr. s.v. Arcade. To set his hands a kenbow. "
So if it started with hands akimbo, why does it have to stop at arms akimbo?
John Dean
Oxford
I've just read a book by Lisa Scottoline in which ... " I have always thought of "akimbo" as an adverb

adjective

In England and Australia and, I suspect, the U.S.,it's an adverb.
I can't see anything that makes it impossible for the term to refer to legs.

Nor can I. But I would never say it; I would never write it. I am not even
100% sure what "legs akimbo" means. But if it means what I think it does, then I would say "Indian style" or cross-legged".

GFH
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