adjective \ ˈgōsh \
|Updated on: 28 Jun 2018

Definition of gauche

sometimes gaucher; sometimes gauchest
1 a : lacking social experience or grace; also : not tactful : crude
  • it would be gauche to mention the subject
b : crudely made or done
  • a gauche turn of phrase
2 : not planar
  • gauche conformation of molecules





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Examples of gauche in a Sentence

  1. Among élite scientists, it was usually considered gauche to be obsessed with anything so tangible or immediate: brilliant discoveries were supposed to percolate. —Michael SpecterNew Yorker3 Dec. 2007
  2. … furnished it with, among other things, an embarrassingly gauche, oversized Roman Catholic basilica rumored to be larger even than St. Peter's in Vatican City … —Marc A. SchindlerVerbatimSpring 1992
  3. We were suburban housewives and mothers. As poets we took a respectful backseat to the male poets. We did not talk about our husbands and children in public; that would have been gauche indeed. —Maxine KuminIn Deep1987
  4. So lofty was her depreciatory manner that I felt myself gauche and was put on the defensive. —Joseph HellerGod Knows1984
  5. Would it be gauche of me to ask her how old she is?

  6. his loud talking at the opera marked him as gauche and uncultured

Recent Examples of gauche from the Web

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

gauche and Being Left-handed

Gauche is one of several words that come from old suspicions or negative associations surrounding the left side and use of the left hand. In French, "gauche" literally means "left," and it has the extended meanings "awkward" and "clumsy." Presumably these meanings came about because left-handed people could appear awkward trying to manage in a right-handed world - or perhaps because right-handed people appear awkward when they try to use their left hand. In fact, "awkward" itself comes from the Middle English awke, meaning "turned the wrong way or "left-handed." On the other hand, "adroit" and "dexterity" have their roots in words meaning "right" or "on the right side."

Origin and Etymology of gauche

French, literally, left

Synonym Discussion of gauche

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

GAUCHE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of gauche for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing a lack of awareness about the proper way to behave : socially awkward

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