awkward

adjective
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

Here are some of the most squirm-inducing, awkward, and straight-up WTF references from the premiere, ranked by their cringiness. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "'The Bachelor' Premiere's Most Cringe-Inducing References to Colton’s Virginity, Ranked," 7 Jan. 2019 The writing is crisp and funny, as Less navigates a comedic gauntlet of awkward, international social situations like unknowingly and relentlessly butchering a foreign language. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 One negative thing that reviewers did note is that the zipper tends to gets stuck and can be a little awkward to zip, but that didn't stop them from raving about the coat's coziness. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "Reading the Amazon Reviews on This Crazy-Popular Winter Coat Will Make You Want One ASAP," 13 Dec. 2018 There could be some awkward moments in the locker room at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu upon his arrival, though. Scooby Axson, SI.com, "Real Madrid’s New Manager Lopetegui Has History of Favoring Messi Over Ronaldo," 12 June 2018 Some do all three at once in really awkward moments. Richie Hertzberg, National Geographic, "This Baby Elephant Might Be Feeling 'Awkward'," 7 June 2018 Even the body language experts noticed this awkward moment. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Kate Middleton Gave Camilla Major Side-Eye at the Royal Wedding," 19 May 2018 All of that is lightened by humor along the way, though occasionally triggered at awkward moments, as if out of concern that the audience might get too uncomfortable with the subject matter. Tim Smith, baltimoresun.com, "At Everyman Theatre, 'Book of Joseph' provides intriguing drama of family secrets, regrets," 18 May 2018 There was an awkward moment of silence, then jeers from the crowd. Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "Yes, Mr. President, there are ‘Hispanics in the room’ all over this country of ours | Miami Herald," 30 Apr. 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

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for awkward

The first known use of awkward was in 1530

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More Definitions for awkward

awkward

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of awkward

: not graceful
: lacking skill
: difficult to use or handle

awkward

adjective
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

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