\ ˈgōsh How to pronounce gauche (audio) \
sometimes gaucher; sometimes gauchest

Definition of gauche

1a : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from gauche

gauchely adverb
gaucheness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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 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."

Examples of gauche in a Sentence

Among élite scientists, it was usually considered gauche to be obsessed with anything so tangible or immediate: brilliant discoveries were supposed to percolate. — Michael Specter, New Yorker, 3 Dec. 2007 … 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. Schindler, Verbatim, Spring 1992 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 Kumin, In Deep, 1987 So lofty was her depreciatory manner that I felt myself gauche and was put on the defensive. — Joseph Heller, God Knows, 1984 Would it be gauche of me to ask her how old she is? his loud talking at the opera marked him as gauche and uncultured
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The public is starting to turn against its influencer and celebrity populations and their gauche displays, with a few calling for their execution by guillotine. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, 23 Apr. 2020 Yuskavage, a masterful colorist, makes lush, luminous, intentionally — and delightfully — gauche paintings that unsettle facile notions of misogyny, femininity and the female gaze. Julia Felsenthal, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2020 The idea that the left has enemies who must be roundly defeated remains too gauche for many Democrats. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 27 Dec. 2019 But, in today’s Leftist world of intersectionality, 'American' is deemed embarrassing & gauche. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, 26 Feb. 2020 Sontag is the gauche one here, seeing other people only in relation to herself, without any sense of their separate existence. Michael Gorra, The New York Review of Books, 11 Feb. 2020 The food-shaming phenomenon isn’t unique to U.S. politics: The French have their gauche caviar (the caviar left) and the Brits their champagne socialists, or as they’re sometimes called, Bollinger Bolsheviks, a reference to a pricey, bubbly quaff. Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2019 The first scene has Tirzah limply sliding out onstage, crying, after the rape, then promptly sliding back off in a gauche display. Maya Phillips, New York Times, 24 Oct. 2019 Pippa was embarrassed by these gauche and faintly theatrical eruptions of veiled feminist protest, coming so much too late. Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 21 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of gauche

1751, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gauche

French, literally, left

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About gauche

Listen to Our Podcast About gauche

Dictionary Entries Near gauche



Gaucher disease

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for gauche

Cite this Entry

“Gauche.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gauche



English Language Learners Definition of gauche

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

More from Merriam-Webster on gauche

Nglish: Translation of gauche for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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