awkward

adjective
awk·​ward | \ ˈȯ-kwərd How to pronounce awkward (audio) \

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 The Netflix show portrays the awkward dance between ceremony and democracy. Parker Richards, The New Republic, "The Crown’s Case for the Monarchy," 26 Nov. 2019 Buttigieg’s recent outreach to African Americans was painfully awkward. Jim Geraghty, National Review, "Mayor Pete’s Convenient Excuse," 20 Nov. 2019 Privacy can be an issue, though Andrews knows to take awkward situations with a grain of salt - er, spoonful of sugar. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Magical Julie Andrews cameo raises $600,000 for Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation at Post Oak Hotel," 28 Oct. 2019 The young women lined up in an awkward half circle, six of them pulling at their long tunics, fidgeting with their scarves. National Geographic, "How women in India demanded—and are getting—safer streets," 15 Oct. 2019 That means an awkward transfer to the ship's crane. Paul Voosen, Science Magazine, "A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise?," 10 Oct. 2019 The situation doesn’t seem awkward at all for the women; Kardashian even helps Richie fix her makeup. Michele Corriston, PEOPLE.com, "Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian Bicker While Soaking in Hot Tub with Sofia Richie on KUWTK," 4 Oct. 2019 Showers are awkward because the equipment must stay dry. Caroline Chen, ProPublica, "“It’s Very Unethical”: Audio Shows Hospital Kept Vegetative Patient on Life Support to Boost Survival Rates," 3 Oct. 2019 Sure, doing eyeliner next to that random sophomore might be a little awkward, but asking to borrow someone’s mascara or concealer is also weirdly bonding. Faran Krentcil, Seventeen, "The Latest Beauty Lineup for Every Crew at School This Fall," 23 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for awkward

Time Traveler

The first known use of awkward was in 1530

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Statistics for awkward

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Awkward.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awkwardly. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for awkward

awkward

adjective
How to pronounce awkward (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of awkward

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

awkward

adjective
awk·​ward | \ ˈȯ-kwərd How to pronounce awkward (audio) \

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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