Thesaurus

awkward

adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms of awkward

2 showing or marked by a lack of skill and tact (as in dealing with a situation)
  • her awkward handling of the seating arrangements at the wedding reception resulted in many hurt feelings

Synonyms for awkward

Words Related to awkward

Near Antonyms for awkward

Antonyms for awkward

3 causing embarrassment
  • the awkward situation of having to listen as your host and hostess quarrel loudly in the next room

Synonyms for awkward

Words Related to awkward

Near Antonyms for awkward

4 causing difficulty, discomfort, or annoyance
  • our surprise guests came at a very awkward time

Synonyms for awkward

Words Related to awkward

Near Antonyms for awkward

Antonyms for awkward

5 difficult to use or operate especially because of size, weight, or design
  • that manual can opener is awkward to hold

Synonyms for awkward

Words Related to awkward

Near Antonyms for awkward

Antonyms for awkward

6 having or showing an inability to move in a graceful manner
  • an awkward person who is always tripping over herself

Synonyms for awkward

Words Related to awkward

Near Antonyms for awkward

Antonyms for awkward

7 lacking or showing a lack of nimbleness in using one's hands
  • an awkward catch of a fly ball

Synonyms for awkward

Words Related to awkward

Phrases Synonymous with awkward

Near Antonyms for awkward

Antonyms for awkward

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About awkward

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about awkward

Time Traveler for awkward

Time Traveler

The first known use of awkward was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Cite this Entry

“Awkward.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/awkward. Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on awkward

Dictionary: Definition 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!