awk·​ward | \ˈȯ-kwərd \

Definition of awkward 

1a : lacking dexterity or skill (as in the use of hands) I'm awkward with a needle and thread.

b : showing the result of a lack of expertness an awkward attempt awkward pictures

2a : lacking ease or grace (as of movement or expression) awkward writing

b : lacking the right proportions, size, or harmony of parts : ungainly an awkward design

3a : lacking social grace and assurance an awkward newcomer

b : causing embarrassment an awkward moment

4 : not easy to handle or deal with : requiring great skill, ingenuity, or care an awkward load an awkward diplomatic situation

5 obsolete : perverse

6 archaic : unfavorable, adverse

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Other Words from awkward

awkwardly adverb
awkwardness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for awkward

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of awkward in a Sentence

I was electrified by what I learned in college. Still socially awkward, I had the bad habit of stopping strangers in the street to pour my heart out about the latest marvel I had learned. — Jaron Lanier, Curious Minds, (2004) 2005 Greene must have known that such men would not spill the beans about his irregular life or ask awkward questions, though Burgess famously teased him for being … a poseur, and was banished. — Paul Theroux, New York Times Book Review, 17 Oct. 2004 On the ground, vultures are hunched and awkward bundles of feathers, but in the air, where I watch them during much of the day, they are magnificent graceful soarers. Words From the Land, Stephen Trimble, editor, 1988 She is awkward at dancing. He had large feet and his walk was awkward and ungainly. The story contained some awkward writing. She is an awkward writer. The machine is very awkward to operate. I often find myself in awkward situations. He was put in the awkward position of having to write the memo. There was an awkward pause in the conversation. He feels awkward with strangers.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Since Camila Cabello left Fifth Harmony in late 2016, we’ve been immersed in a wave of drama surrounding the singer and the former quartet’s relationship — complete with a handful of ill-fated jokes, awkward questions and mannequin controversies. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Camila Cabello Reconciled With Fellow Fifth Harmony Member Normani at the 2018 BBMAs," 15 Nov. 2018 Fill up empty, awkward wall space with bookshelves. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "5 Brilliant Ways to Upgrade Your Bookshelf," 20 Sep. 2018 But Fonda's openness about her procedures might be surprising to those who saw her awkward interview with Megyn Kelly in 2017. Eileen Reslen, Town & Country, "Jane Fonda Opens Up About Her Decision to Get Plastic Surgery," 20 Sep. 2018 There will be the obvious awkward period, as both retain joint custody over today's 3D XPoint and the factory in Lehi, Utah, where it is made. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "It's over: Intel and Micron file for divorce on 3DXpoint technology," 16 July 2018 Sure, Vucevic likely won’t be re-signed, and Biyombo will probably be off the team in two seasons, but that still leaves three young players (Gordon, Bamba and Isaac) who are at best an awkward fit together and should likely never share the court. Rohan Nadkarni,, "Grades: Aaron Gordon Deciding to Stay In Orlando Could Stunt His Growth," 1 July 2018 Not only was Trump an awkward fit for a staunch conservative like DeMint, but the Heritage president had strong ties to two of his primary opponents. Jonathan Mahler, New York Times, "How One Conservative Think Tank Is Stocking Trump’s Government," 20 June 2018 James, whom Philly is expected to aggressive pursue, would be an awkward fit with Ben Simmons. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Betting odds on where Kawhi Leonard will play next season," 15 June 2018 The company changed the factory tooling so that items like the cover to the tow hook behind the front bumper went from being an awkward fit to a seamless one. John D. Stoll, WSJ, "Tesla’s Factory in a Fishbowl," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'awkward.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of awkward

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for awkward

Middle English awkeward in the wrong direction, from awke turned the wrong way, from Old Norse ǫfugr; akin to Old High German abuh turned the wrong way

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Statistics for awkward

Last Updated

20 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for awkward

The first known use of awkward was in 1530

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More Definitions for awkward



English Language Learners Definition of awkward

: not graceful

: lacking skill

: difficult to use or handle


awk·​ward | \ˈȯ-kwərd \

Kids Definition of awkward

1 : not graceful : clumsy an awkward dancer

2 : likely to embarrass an awkward question

3 : difficult to use or handle awkward tools

Other Words from awkward

awkwardly adverb
awkwardness noun After a moment of awkwardness, I remembered who she was.

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More from Merriam-Webster on awkward

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awkward

Spanish Central: Translation of awkward

Nglish: Translation of awkward for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of awkward for Arabic Speakers

Comments on awkward

What made you want to look up awkward? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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