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From awk (odd, clumsy) +‎ -ward.



awkward (comparative more awkward, superlative most awkward)

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  1. (obsolete) In a backwards direction.
    • 1470–1485 (date produced), Thomas Malory, “Capitulum X”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book V, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, →OCLC; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, →OCLC:
      Than groned the knyght for his grymme woundis, and gyrdis to Sir Gawayne and awkewarde hym strykes, and [] kut thorow a vayne [].


awkward (comparative awkwarder or more awkward, superlative awkwardest or most awkward)

  1. Lacking dexterity in the use of the hands, or of instruments.
    John was awkward at performing the trick. He'll have to practice to improve.
    Synonyms: clumsy, lubberly, ungraceful, unhandy
    Antonyms: dexterous, gainly, graceful, handy, skillful
  2. Not easily managed or effected; embarrassing.
    That was an extremely awkward moment. Everyone was watching.
    An awkward silence had fallen.
  3. Lacking social skills, or uncomfortable with social interaction.
    I'm very awkward at parties.
    Things get very awkward whenever 60-year old men use cheesy pick-up lines on me.
    Synonym: maladroit
    Antonyms: amiable, cool
  4. Perverse; adverse; difficult to handle.
    He's a right awkward chap.
    These cabinets are going to be very awkward when we move.
    • 2020 August 26, Andrew Mourant, “Reinforced against future flooding”, in Rail, page 61:
      Clearing up rock and fallen vegetation at such an awkward site required a team of specialist geoengineers.

Derived terms[edit]



awkward (plural awkwards)

  1. Someone or something that is awkward.
    • 1912, Eliza Ripley, Social Life in Old New Orleans, Being Recollections of My Girlhood, New York, N.Y.; London: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      Another important branch of deportment was to seat the awkwards stiffly on the extreme edge of a chair, fold the hands on the very precarious lap, droop the eyes in a pensive way.
    • 1998, Leo Marks, Between Silk and Cyanide: The Story of SOE's Code War, London: HarperCollins, →ISBN:
      'What periods are you talking about?' / 'The monthly awkwards. Didn't the girls at Molyneux have them when you were managing director?' / The Rabbit leaned forward, sniffing the air in the immediate vicinity. 'Either you've been drinking or you've got some girl into trouble. Or am I being unfair to you and it's both?'
    • 2014, Grace Helbig, Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up, New York, N.Y.: Touchstone Books, Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 76:
      That is a way to make awkwards. And it's not fun to hang out with awkwards more than once.