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

Yet the timing of the incident could prove awkward for President Trump. Ciara Nugent, Time, "'There Will Be Severe Pain.' What to Know About the New Novichok Nerve Agent Poisoning in the U.K.," 5 July 2018 There wasn’t any awkward silences or anything like that. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes' British-born Liam Kirk followed a different path en route to making history," 29 June 2018 Eventually, the awkward silences and nervous fiddling begin to sap energy from the plot rather than fuel it. Matthew J. Palm,, "Slow to build, 'Gidion's Knot' pays off in tangle of wrenching emotions," 28 June 2018 The video shows the awkward silence that ensued on the field. Eli Rosenberg, ajc, "Valedictorian began talking about sexual misconduct at graduation. Then her mic was cut," 9 June 2018 Roybal filled the awkward silence with a few more stories. Greg Jaffe, Anchorage Daily News, "Imperfect answers: A JBER soldier was killed in action, and his parents ask why," 27 May 2018 Carman came off as composed but a little awkward for most of the 90-minute hearing. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Boater offers few answers in grandfather's shooting and mother's presumed death at sea," 3 Apr. 2018 Yesterday, as the whole family hung out together at Khloe’s birthday party, KKW took to Instagram stories to confront the painfully awkward fact that Tristan had blocked her on social media. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kim Kardashian Forced Tristan Thompson to Un-Block Her on Instagram," 28 June 2018 Things got just a little awkward on the latest episode of America's Got Talent. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Heidi Klum Asked 'America's Got Talent' Contestant Joseph O'Brien If He's Ever "Snogged"," 27 June 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

25 Sep 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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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