Definition of awkward in English:

awkward

adjective

  • 1Causing difficulty; hard to do or deal with.

    ‘some awkward questions’
    ‘the wheelbarrow can be awkward to maneuver’
    ‘one of the most awkward jobs is painting a ceiling’
    • ‘And it is bloody awkward to manage in some such situations.’
    • ‘The wood was hard and awkward, the stone ice cold during most of the year.’
    • ‘In fact - as every other employee of the company to whom I've since spoken has agreed - he was fobbing us off in order to get out of doing an awkward, time-consuming job.’
    • ‘This also means that you have to be prepared to listen to some hard truths and awkward questions.’
    • ‘Their absence both raises awkward questions over whether or not Edinburgh's festival is losing its lustre and highlights the intractable nature of film business politics.’
    • ‘Had staff consulted with the minister and agreed to feign communication breakdown so as not to have to deal with my awkward questions?’
    • ‘They have the right to ask some awkward questions.’
    • ‘In addition, he frequently appears to be sidestepping awkward questions by the simple expedient of behaving as if you have asked something completely different.’
    • ‘The South African government's passive response to events in Zimbabwe inevitably raises awkward questions about the depth of its own commitment to democracy.’
    • ‘They're reluctant to make much of it because they know that a writer who asks too many awkward questions soon gets labelled as ‘difficult’.’
    • ‘They can be handy, but I found they make riding bloody awkward if you're on a bike with a head-down, bum-up riding position.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, this versatility has meant that the user controls are somewhat awkward and very difficult to master.’
    • ‘O'Brien's hectic schedule may have been cast aside this weekend as he prepares to deal with many awkward questions, which may include some of the following.’
    • ‘His claims that the tribunal has shown bias towards him still leave a number of awkward issues to be dealt with.’
    • ‘It was a rather banal response, but then I guess Labour's press office is used to dealing with awkward questions.’
    • ‘He dealt with an awkward question on devolution with the surety and intelligence you would expect from a man who refused to be bullied into Vietnam.’
    • ‘It becomes increasingly difficult when it occurs so repeatedly not to start asking awkward questions.’
    • ‘The lack of sliding side doors sees the Trajet lose out to the Kia here, and the seats can be more awkward and harder to fit.’
    • ‘It rules, even if the bottle is awkward and hard to spray.’
    • ‘Their stance is one of unswerving resistance, but their films, while dealing with awkward topics, have never been demagogic.’
    difficult, tricky
    cumbersome, unwieldy, unhandy
    inconvenient, difficult, inappropriate, inopportune, unfortunate
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    1. 1.1 Deliberately unreasonable or uncooperative.
      ‘you're being damned awkward!’
      • ‘Hasseck said one way of deciding how to deal with awkward customers was to work out what kind they were.’
      • ‘However awkward and obstructive he has been, we are going to war come what may.’
      • ‘I was asked to enter some of my favourite music, so being deliberately awkward, I entered four of my less well known favourites, first among them being Lucy Woodward.’
      • ‘The public perception of me is that I'm a hard man or an awkward man.’
      • ‘Between the ages of thirty and fifty, father often enters an awkward or ‘negative’ stage.’
      • ‘The mayor told us that this man has caused other problems that he is unwilling to resolve, so he seems to be an awkward person to deal with.’
      • ‘Belinda had mentioned that she had been a secretary for a while and she was good at dealing with awkward customers.’
      • ‘I am old, cynical, bitter, twisted, awkward, difficult, fussy, and generally hard to please.’
      • ‘He seems to be an actor perfectly suited to kitchen sink dramas in an age when demand from that sort of awkward, angry character is declining.’
      • ‘London's tone suggests they're put out, as though we're being deliberately awkward.’
      • ‘He couldn't quite grab the vital winning goal as they came up against Lady Luck with her awkward head on, a stubborn defence and a goalkeeper in top form.’
      • ‘Also, the ones they do employ (at least in Peckham) are inadequately trained/too inefficient to deal with awkward customers.’
      • ‘And on top of that they have to deal diplomatically with awkward patients.’
      • ‘They kept waiters hanging on while rudely squabbling and were deliberately awkward.’
      • ‘We did not want to be awkward and put any unreasonable obstructions in the way.’
      • ‘There's nothing wrong with being awkward and difficult and odd.’
      • ‘Shaw said it was vital to teach everyone in your business how to deal with awkward customers.’
      • ‘I love that last bit about Vignelli and the way he dealt with the awkward client.’
      • ‘Everyone wants peace, no one wants war, and if you aren't prepared to march then you're either gung ho or deliberately awkward.’
      unreasonable, uncooperative, unhelpful, difficult, annoying, obstructive, unaccommodating, refractory, disobliging, contrary, perverse, tiresome, exasperating, trying
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  • 2Causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience.

    ‘he had put her in a very awkward situation’
    • ‘I was desperate for approval and to find some common ground to smooth over an unpleasantly awkward couple of days.’
    • ‘Waiting for her to pick up was awkward and hard, but eventually the phone clicked over and a man's voice answered.’
    • ‘The episode ends with an awkward and uncomfortable lovemaking session between Tony and Carmela.’
    • ‘The atmosphere grew tenser and an awkward pause ensued.’
    • ‘A relationship with one who is ‘not one of us’ raises the risk that sooner or later a difficult and awkward conversation lies ahead.’
    • ‘She could easily envision the awkward silences and uneasy shifting in the seats.’
    • ‘There were a few uneasy seconds of awkward silence, everyone looking at Christine with apprehension.’
    • ‘Even though she had never really cared to notice, the air was damp and the dripping coming from above made the silence very uneasy and awkward.’
    • ‘Remember that for ALL children, discovering their sexual self is a big deal and awkward.’
    • ‘If we are honest, those of us who have all of our abilities sometimes are uncomfortable or even awkward alongside those who are seriously disabled.’
    • ‘She finally asked after an awkward pause, exasperated with their indecision.’
    • ‘They certainly didn't make us feel awkward when we questioned them about some of the dishes - rather, they seemed delighted that we were so interested in what they had to offer.’
    • ‘She hadn't laughed so much in ages, and it was always fun to make Joaquin awkward.’
    • ‘I'd like to encourage some interactivity in this blog, so if anyone would like to email me with their awkward or embarrassing moments, I can post them here anonymously.’
    • ‘Not for their use, mind you: a good soundtrack can make a movie better than its sum of train explosions, drug deals and awkward romances.’
    • ‘After a few such trips, I became bolder, and I got myself into quite a few awkward or embarrassing situations as a result.’
    • ‘My mind went back to when Josh and I were Sammy's age, and how awkward it was at that age when people didn't want to be your friend.’
    • ‘I bought a suit today, after two weeks of deliberations, window shopping, and awkward small talk with sales assistants.’
    • ‘A yellow-haired person would contrast horribly and feel very awkward.’
    • ‘It also provided a social setting where the sixth graders could mingle without the pressures of a party or dance, which can be awkward for this age group.’
    embarrassing, uncomfortable, unpleasant, delicate, ticklish, tricky, sensitive, problematic, problematical, troublesome, perplexing, thorny, vexatious
    embarrassed, self-conscious, uncomfortable, ill at ease, uneasy, tense, nervous, edgy, unrelaxed, strained
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  • 3Not smooth or graceful; ungainly.

    ‘Luther's awkward movements impeded his progress’
    ‘she was long-legged and rather awkward’
    • ‘But left-handers are renowned for being awkward and clumsy and in some societies they are still looked upon with suspicion.’
    • ‘The high ceilings and unbroken expanses of wall in such a house can make the rooms seem awkward and ungainly.’
    • ‘If a grader were a person, he might be called ungainly, awkward, or even a klutz.’
    • ‘The elephant, unwieldy and awkward yet graceful and powerful, becomes an allegory for the form itself.’
    • ‘I learned to ski in the Dolomites more than 20 years ago, and memories of those buttery sunsets have stayed with me as much as the first awkward turns and ungainly falls off button lifts.’
    • ‘The resulting pieces at first look remarkably awkward and ungainly.’
    • ‘He's a contradiction in that his jump shot, an awkward heave off his right shoulder, is fundamentally flawed.’
    • ‘Many of the other performers, however, were stiff and awkward.’
    • ‘I was always a bit awkward and ungainly as a child, so I thought that maybe I was just on the clumsy side.’
    • ‘He felt clumsy and awkward in the air, his body too ungainly to be properly streamlined.’
    • ‘He looks almost exactly as I'd left him; awkward, ungainly and birdlike.’
    • ‘In all of them you see a hunched, awkward man, uncomfortable in his own body.’
    • ‘That most people walk in an ungraceful, ungainly and awkward manner with a forward inclination of the body does not mean that it is the normal way of walking.’
    • ‘Kouki could see by his stiff stance and awkward movement that he didn't like him.’
    • ‘Chris was nearly eighteen and though he was tall, filled out with spiky black hair and handsome features, he still felt awkward, gawky, and ugly.’
    • ‘Now she faked her clumsy and awkward movements, often purposely stumbling over anything that came her way.’
    • ‘You remember how you felt at that age, when your own body was awkward and when you were full of energy and uncertainty.’
    • ‘Mothers and fathers send out the message that boys are awkward, ungainly and silly.’
    • ‘Others are clumsy and awkward, obvious targets of adolescent rejection.’
    • ‘He baffles hitters with an awkward delivery, a hard fastball and a Frisbee slider.’
    clumsy, ungainly, uncoordinated, maladroit, graceless, ungraceful, inept, inelegant, unskilful, unhandy, gauche, gawky, gangling, blundering, lumbering, cloddish
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    1. 3.1 Uncomfortable or abnormal.
      ‘make sure the baby isn't sleeping in an awkward position’
      • ‘He held one paw forward in an awkward, unnatural way.’
      • ‘It seemed awkward and unnatural to stand and walk, but I did it; I clambered out of the cave, into the harsh sunlight.’
      • ‘If the motion feels awkward, uncomfortable or painful, you need to make an adjustment somewhere.’
      • ‘It would ball up on his hoof, making it uncomfortable and awkward to walk.’
      • ‘It was awkward and uncomfortable to sleep in a closet.’
      • ‘There, lying in an awkward, unnatural position, was the High Priestess.’
      • ‘Stan hunched down next to Phillip as he squeezed himself into the tunnel at a relatively awkward and entirely uncomfortable angle as his tail lit the way for the party.’
      • ‘Mountain biking is jarring on the low back and is forcing your spine into an awkward, unnatural position.’
      • ‘The hotels are still generic and boring and when I sleep, it feels awkward and uncomfortable in the beds.’
      • ‘As I lay on my side, too choked with inward giggling to move into a less awkward and uncomfortable position, my mother appeared.’
      • ‘They almost always occur after sleeping, especially if in an awkward position such as leaning against a bus window.’
      • ‘He stood as straight as he could, which was not very straight, since he spent nearly two hours in an uncomfortable and awkward position.’
      • ‘Seems like a really awkward, unnatural pose to me.’
      • ‘I laid on the floor at an awkward angle, the ropes that the crazy British dude had put on me had started to burn into my wrists.’
      • ‘I tried taming it with a metal hoop around its middle last year but some stems still found their way out from their binding and those that didn't looked awkward and uncomfortable.’
      • ‘The members did this while crouching-on the floor in a very uncomfortable, awkward position.’
      • ‘One of his legs was bloodied and bent at an awkward angle because of a clearly broken bone.’
      • ‘I sat up angrily, muttering profanities to myself as I rubbed my elbows and knees which took my awkward landing hardest.’

Origin

Late Middle English (in the sense ‘the wrong way round, upside down’): from dialect awk ‘backwards, perverse, clumsy’ (from Old Norse afugr ‘turned the wrong way’) + -ward.

Pronunciation

awkward

/ˈôkwərd//ˈɔkwərd/