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Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does awkward mean? 

AWKWARD (adjective)
  The adjective AWKWARD has 6 senses:

1. causing inconvenience
2. lacking grace or skill in manner or movement or performance
3. difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape
4. not elegant or graceful in expression
5. hard to deal with; especially causing pain or embarrassment
6. not at ease socially; unsure and constrained in manner

  Familiarity information: AWKWARD used as an adjective is common.

 Dictionary entry details 

AWKWARD (adjective)

Sense 1awkward [BACK TO TOP]


Causing inconvenience

Context example:

they arrived at an awkward time


inconvenient (not suited to your comfort, purpose or needs)

Sense 2awkward [BACK TO TOP]


Lacking grace or skill in manner or movement or performance

Context examples:

an awkward dancer / an awkward gesture / too awkward with a needle to make her own clothes / his clumsy fingers produced an awkward knot


wooden (lacking ease or grace)

labored; laboured; strained (lacking natural ease)

clumsy; clunky; gawky; ungainly; unwieldy (lacking grace in movement or posture)

graceless; ungraceful (lacking grace; clumsy)


ugly (displeasing to the senses)

maladroit (not adroit)


graceful (characterized by beauty of movement, style, form, or execution)

Sense 3awkward [BACK TO TOP]


Difficult to handle or manage especially because of shape


bunglesome; ungainly; awkward; clumsy

Context examples:

an awkward bundle to carry / a load of bunglesome paraphernalia / clumsy wooden shoes / the cello, a rather ungainly instrument for a girl


unmanageable; unwieldy (difficult to use or handle or manage because of size or weight or shape)

Sense 4awkward [BACK TO TOP]


Not elegant or graceful in expression


inept; inapt; ill-chosen; cumbersome; clumsy; awkward

Context examples:

an awkward prose style / a clumsy apology / his cumbersome writing style / if the rumor is true, can anything be more inept than to repeat it now?


infelicitous (not appropriate in application; defective)

Sense 5awkward [BACK TO TOP]


Hard to deal with; especially causing pain or embarrassment


unenviable; embarrassing; sticky; awkward

Context examples:

awkward (or embarrassing or difficult) moments in the discussion / an awkward pause followed his remark / a sticky question / in the unenviable position of resorting to an act he had planned to save for the climax of the campaign


difficult; hard (not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure)

Sense 6awkward [BACK TO TOP]


Not at ease socially; unsure and constrained in manner


ill at ease; uneasy; awkward

Context examples:

awkward and reserved at parties / ill at ease among eddies of people he didn't know / was always uneasy with strangers


uncomfortable (conducive to or feeling mental discomfort)

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"Don't cut off your nose to spite your face." (English proverb)

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"Empty barrels make more noise." (Danish proverb)

 AWKWARD: related words searches 

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