Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective clumsy contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of clumsy are awkward, gauche, inept, and maladroit. While all these words mean "not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct)," clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill.

a clumsy mechanic

When could awkward be used to replace clumsy?

The words awkward and clumsy can be used in similar contexts, but awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact.

periods of awkward silence

When might gauche be a better fit than clumsy?

Although the words gauche and clumsy have much in common, gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding.

felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

In what contexts can inept take the place of clumsy?

While the synonyms inept and clumsy are close in meaning, inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy.

a hopelessly inept defense attorney

When would maladroit be a good substitute for clumsy?

In some situations, the words maladroit and clumsy are roughly equivalent. However, maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations.

a maladroit politician

Thesaurus Entries Near clumsy

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on clumsy

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