lacking skill or dexterity.
Synonyms: clumsy, inept; unskillful, unhandy, inexpert.
Antonyms: deft, adroit, skillful, dexterous; handy.
lacking grace or ease in movement: an awkward gesture;
an awkward dancer.
Synonyms: uncoordinated, graceless, ungainly; gawky; maladroit; clumsy.
Antonyms: graceful.
lacking social graces or manners:
a simple, awkward frontiersman.
Synonyms: gauche, unpolished, unrefined; blundering, oafish; ill-mannered, unmannerly, ill-bred.
Antonyms: gracious; polite, well-mannered, well-bred; smooth, polished, refined.
not well planned or designed for easy or effective use: an awkward instrument;
an awkward method.
Synonyms: unwieldy, cumbersome, unmanageable; inconvenient, difficult, troublesome.
requiring caution; somewhat hazardous:
an awkward turn in the road.
Synonyms: dangerous, risky, unsafe, chancy; perilous, precarious, treacherous.
hard to deal with; difficult; requiring skill, tact, or the like: an awkward situation;
an awkward customer.
embarrassing or inconvenient; caused by lack of social grace:
an awkward moment.
Synonyms: unpleasant, trying, difficult; uncomfortable, ticklish, touchy.
Obsolete. untoward; perverse.
Contemporary Examples

What if the awkwardness of high school is only amplified in college?
Paul Auster, Bernhard Schlink, and More of This Week’s Hot Reads: Aug. 13, 2012 Mythili Rao August 11, 2012

And Shipka is especially skilled at conveying the confusion, awkwardness, and anger of adolescence.
Lifetime’s ‘Flowers in the Attic’ Review: The Incest Is There, The Strange Magic Is Not Andrew Romano January 15, 2014

Britta navigates the awkwardness of her newfound romance with Troy, particularly around Abed.
‘Community’: Season 4 of the NBC Comedy Ponders the End Jace Lacob February 5, 2013

Rather, he dishes up a seemingly endless stream of examples of pettiness, irritation, hypocrisy and awkwardness.
Fear And Self-Loathing In Scandinavia: The Fiction Of Karl Ove Knausgaard Ted Gioia May 27, 2014

That is the awkwardness of testifying about intelligence matters in public.
Spy Chief James Clapper: We Can’t Stop Another Snowden Eli Lake February 23, 2014

Historical Examples

Then the awkwardness of the moment came forcibly before him, and he sat still, silent and confused.
Arthur O’Leary Charles James Lever

If there’s any awkwardness about it, it sha’n’t be on my side.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, No. 327 Various

He met his failure with a certain dignity of bearing which all his awkwardness could not efface.
A Young Man’s Year Anthony Hope

By the awkwardness of the unpacker, the statue’s thumb was broken.
Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10) Maria Edgeworth

Either through his awkwardness or mine, the leaves of the case opened, and the bank-note fluttered out.
Johnny Ludlow, Second Series Mrs. Henry Wood

lacking dexterity, proficiency, or skill; clumsy; inept: the new recruits were awkward in their exercises
ungainly or inelegant in movements or posture: despite a great deal of practice she remained an awkward dancer
unwieldy; difficult to use: an awkward implement
embarrassing: an awkward moment
embarrassed: he felt awkward about leaving
difficult to deal with; requiring tact: an awkward situation, an awkward customer
deliberately uncooperative or unhelpful: he could help but he is being awkward
dangerous or difficult: an awkward ascent of the ridge
(obsolete) perverse

1704, “lack of grace,” from awkward + -ness. Meaning “physical clumsiness” is attested from c.1770; that of “social embarrassment” is from 1788.

mid-14c., “in the wrong direction,” from awk “back-handed” + adverbial suffix -weard (see -ward). Meaning “clumsy” first recorded 1520s. Related: Awkwardly. Other formations from awk, none of them surviving, were awky, awkly, awkness.


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