awkward


awkward
awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not adapted by constitution or character to act, operate, or achieve the intended or desired ends with ease, fitness, or grace. Awkward and clumsy are by far the widest of these terms in their range of application.
Awkward often involves the idea of unfitness for easy handling or dexterous management. It may suggest unhandiness or inconvenience
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an awkward tool

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awkward arrangement of controls

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It may suggest embarrassment or discomfiture
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an awkward situation

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an awkward silence

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an awkward meeting

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how earnestly did she then wish that her former opinions had been more reasonable, her expressions more moderate! It would have spared her from explanations . . . which it was exceedingly awkward to give— Austen

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When applied to persons, their build, their movements, or their manners, awkward usually implies a lack of ease or grace and often suggests inadequate muscular coordination or deficiency in poise; thus, an awkward gait implies lack of muscular control; an awkward greeting implies want of tact or address
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an awkward dancer

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I, sitting in silence, felt awkward; but I was too shy to break into any of the groups that seemed absorbed in their own affairs— Maugham

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his manners were awkward and unconciliatory— Buchan

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Clumsy stresses stiffness or heaviness with consequent want of flexibility or dexterity and is often applied to something so constructed or contrived as to be lumbering or ponderous
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a boy of clumsy build

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a bear is the most clumsy of animals

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a clumsy narrative style

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clumsy boots

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when a great writer . . . creates a speech of his own which is too clumsy to be flexible and too heavy to be intimate— Ellis

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a great play in spite of . . . the clumsy machinery of the plot— T. S. Eliot

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Often, and especially when applied to persons and their acts, it implies a lack of expertness or adroitness in manipulation often with a suggestion of bungling
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the clumsy attempts of governments or other social bodies to interfere . . . will only make matters worse— Hobson

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he was a clumsy dissector because of his injury— H. G. Wells

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Maladroit and inept imply awkwardness or clumsiness in managing whatever requires mental or social dexterity and are applicable only to persons and their acts or utterances.
Maladroit implies a lack of tact or of skill in avoiding difficult situations in human intercourse and is often opposed to politic or diplomatic in their extended senses
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a maladroit reply to a letter

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a maladroit remark

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it was more correct to “break” a piece of bad news to a person by means of a (possibly maladroit and unfeeling) messenger— Thackeray

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Inept stresses inappropriateness or lack of aptness especially in a person’s acts or utterances; often, in addition, it carries a suggestion of futility or absurdity; thus, a remark may be inept because it is so out of keeping with the topic under discussion as to seem pointless and also maladroit if it gives an awkward turn to the conversation
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the conviction that the British were everywhere so inept that they deserved to lose— Abend

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one of the most often encountered weaknesses in the trial of criminal cases is the inept and unconvincing testimony of the law enforcement officer— Paul Wilson

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the sharp-eyed and penetrating critic for whom . . . this extraordinary and extraordinarily inept society has in fancied security unwittingly been waiting— Brownell

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Gauche suggests a lack of social graces that makes for clumsiness or ineptness: it may imply also shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding
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this journey . . . tended to reduce my shy, taciturn, and somewhat gauche manner—G. G. Scott

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Analogous words: *stiff, wooden, rigid: embarrassing, discomfiting, disconcerting (see EMBARRASS)
Antonyms: handy, deft: graceful
Contrasted words: adroit, *dexterous: skillful, adept, *proficient: *easy, simple, facile, effortless

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Awkward — Awk ward ([add]k we[ e]rd), a. [Awk + ward.] 1. Wanting dexterity in the use of the hands, or of instruments; not dexterous; without skill; clumsy; wanting ease, grace, or effectiveness in movement; ungraceful; as, he was awkward at a trick; an… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • awkward — [ôk′wərd] adj. [ME aukward < ON ǫfugr, turned backward + OE weard, WARD] 1. not having grace or skill; clumsy, as in form or movement; bungling [an awkward dancer, an awkward style] 2. inconvenient to use; hard to handle; unwieldy [an awkward… …   English World dictionary

  • Awkward — Titre original Awkward Genre Comédie Créateur(s) Lauren Iungerich Acteurs principaux Ashley Rickards Beau Mirchoff Brett Davern Sadie Saxon Pays d’origine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • awkward — [adj1] clumsy, inelegant all thumbs*, amateurish, artless, blundering, bulky, bumbling, bungling, butterfingers*, coarse, floundering, gawky, graceless, green*, having two left feet*, having two left hands*, incompetent, inept, inexpert, klutzy* …   New thesaurus

  • awkward — index difficult, improper, inadept, incompetent, inelegant, inept (incompetent), ponderous, unbecoming …   Law dictionary

  • awkward — (adj.) mid 14c., in the wrong direction, from AWK (Cf. awk) back handed + adverbial suffix weard (see WARD (Cf. ward)). Meaning clumsy first recorded 1520s. Related: Awkwardly. Other formations from awk, none of them surviving, were awky, awkly,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • awkward — ► ADJECTIVE 1) hard to do or deal with. 2) causing or feeling embarrassment. 3) inconvenient. 4) clumsy. DERIVATIVES awkwardly adverb awkwardness noun. ORIGIN from obsolete …   English terms dictionary

  • awkward — awk|ward S2 [ˈo:kwəd US ˈo:kwərd] adj [Date: 1500 1600; Origin: awk turned the wrong way (15 17 centuries) (from Old Norse öfugr) + ward] 1.) making you feel embarrassed so that you are not sure what to do or say = ↑difficult ▪ I hoped he would… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • awkward — adj. 1) awkward with (he is awkward with children) 2) (BE) awkward for (Monday is awkward for me) 3) awkward to + inf. (it is awkward to discuss such matters in public = it is awkward discussing such matters in public) * * * [ ɔːkwəd] (BE)… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • awkward — [[t]ɔ͟ːkwə(r)d[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED An awkward situation is embarrassing and difficult to deal with. I was the first to ask him awkward questions but there ll be harder ones to come... There was an awkward moment as couples decided whether to stand …   English dictionary


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