Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective awkward contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of awkward are clumsy, gauche, inept, and maladroit. While all these words 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

In what contexts can clumsy take the place of awkward?

While the synonyms clumsy and awkward are close in meaning, clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill.

a clumsy mechanic

When would gauche be a good substitute for awkward?

In some situations, the words gauche and awkward are roughly equivalent. However, gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding.

felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

When might inept be a better fit than awkward?

The words inept and awkward are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy.

a hopelessly inept defense attorney

When could maladroit be used to replace awkward?

The meanings of maladroit and awkward largely overlap; however, maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations.

a maladroit politician

Thesaurus Entries Near awkward

Cite this Entry

“Awkward.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/awkward. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

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