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1. Not graceful; ungainly.
a. Not dexterous; clumsy.
b. Clumsily or unskillfully performed: The opera was marred by an awkward aria.
a. Difficult to handle or manage: an awkward bundle to carry.
b. Difficult to effect; uncomfortable: an awkward pose.
a. Marked by or causing embarrassment or discomfort: an awkward remark; an awkward silence.
b. Requiring great tact, ingenuity, skill, and discretion: An awkward situation arose during the peace talks.

[Middle English awkeward, in the wrong way : awke, wrong (from Old Norse öfugr, backward; see apo- in Indo-European roots) + -ward, -ward.]

awk′ward·ly adv.
awk′ward·ness n.




  1. Awkward as a bull in a china shop —Anon

    This still popular simile endures with many substitutions for the bull such as “A blind dog,”“A gorilla,”“A monkey.” Often, instead of a substitute comparison, a different context can lift a simile like this beyond the cliche; for example, “Like wild bulls in a china shop … are my awkward hands of love” from poet Delmore Schwartz’s journals and notes.

  2. Awkward as learning newly learned —Adrienne Rich
  3. Awkward in her movements, as if she had been in solitary for years —Ross Macdonald
  4. Awkward … like a guest at a party to whose members he carried bad news he had no right to know, no right to tell —Hortense Calisher
  5. Awkward like a leaden ballet dancer lifting a fat partner —Ed McBain
  6. Awoke as stiff as if I’d been spray-starched —Jonathan Kellerman
  7. Blunder and fumble like a moth … a rabbit caught in the glare of a torch —William Faulkner
  8. Bumbled up to him like a mole —Wilfrid Sheed
  9. Clumsy as two kids on their first date —Anon
  10. Clumsy … like a leaky old engine with the driving belt slipping and steam escaping from every joint —Christopher Isherwood
  11. Feel awkward like a boy on a date with an older girl —Bobbie Ann Mason
  12. Graceless as a pelican on the ground —George Garrett
  13. Had about as much grace as a hippopotamus in a bubble bath —Harry Prince
  14. Has the grace of an arthritic elephant on roller skates —Corey Sandler
  15. Moved thickly, like a clumsy, good-tempered horse —William Faulkner
  16. Moving stiffly like a man in a body cast —Martin Cruz Smith
  17. She ran on like a clumsy goat, trampling and trespassing on land that was preserved —Daphne du Maurier
  18. Stiff as a gaffer —Richard Wilbur
  19. Stiff as a line in Euclid —Saul Bellow
  20. Stiff as a poker grew —Wallace Irwin
  21. Stumbling about like a drunken bear —James Crumley
  22. Uncoordinated as a rag doll —Dorothea Straus
  23. Unwieldy as a pregnant elephant —Anon



all thumbs Awkward, inept; clumsy, butterfingered. A forerunner of the current expression appeared in John Hey wood’s Proverbs in 1546:

When he should get ought, each finger is a thumb.

The phrase as we know it was in use by 1870:

Your uneducated man is all thumbs, as the phrase runs; and what education does for him is to supply him with clever fingers. (The Echo, November 16, 1870)

flub the dub See RUINATION.

have two left feet To be unusually clumsy; uncoordinated, maladroit. The expression does not constitute an image of deformity, but an emphasis on the negative concepts of left as ‘gauche, awkward, clumsy.’

Mr. Dawson … gave it as his opinion that one of the lady dancers had two left feet. (P. G. Wodehouse, Psmith Journalist, 1915)

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Awkwardness - unskillfulness resulting from a lack of trainingawkwardness - unskillfulness resulting from a lack of training
unskillfulness - a lack of cognitive skill
rustiness - ineptitude or awkwardness as a consequence of age or lack of practice; "his rustiness showed when he was asked to speed up"
2.Awkwardness - the quality of an embarrassing situationawkwardness - the quality of an embarrassing situation; "he sensed the awkwardness of his proposal"
disadvantage - the quality of having an inferior or less favorable position
3.Awkwardness - the carriage of someone whose movements and posture are ungainly or inelegantawkwardness - the carriage of someone whose movements and posture are ungainly or inelegant
posture, carriage, bearing - characteristic way of bearing one's body; "stood with good posture"
gracelessness, ungracefulness - an unpleasant lack of grace in carriage or form or movement or expression
gawkiness, ungainliness - the carriage of someone whose movements and posture are extremely ungainly and inelegant
stiffness - the property of moving with pain or difficulty; "he awoke with a painful stiffness in his neck"
gracefulness - beautiful carriage
4.Awkwardness - the inelegance of someone stiff and unrelaxed (as by embarrassment)awkwardness - the inelegance of someone stiff and unrelaxed (as by embarrassment)
inelegance - the quality of lacking refinement and good taste
woodenness - the quality of being wooden and awkward; "he criticized the woodenness of the acting"; "there was a certain woodenness in his replies"
gaucherie, rusticity - the quality of being rustic or gauche
5.Awkwardness - trouble in carrying or managing caused by bulk or shapeawkwardness - trouble in carrying or managing caused by bulk or shape; "the movers cursed the unwieldiness of the big piano"
troublesomeness, worriment, inconvenience - a difficulty that causes anxiety


2. embarrassment, difficulty, discomfort, delicacy, unpleasantness, inconvenience, stickiness (informal), painfulness, ticklishness, uphill (S. African), thorniness, inopportuneness, perplexingness, untimeliness It was a moment of some awkwardness in our relationship.
إرباك، إحراج
neobratnosttrapná situace


[ˈɔːkwədnɪs] N
1. (= difficult nature) [of problem] → lo delicado; [of situation] → lo delicado, lo violento; [of person] → falta f de colaboración; [of shape, design] → lo incómodo, lo poco práctico
2. (= embarrassment, discomfort) → embarazo m
3. (= clumsiness) → torpeza f


[ˈɔːkwərdnɪs] n (= embarrassment) → gêne f


(= difficulty)Schwierigkeit f; (of time, angle, shape)Ungünstigkeit f
(= discomfort)Peinlichkeit f
(= embarrassment)Verlegenheit f; (= shamefacedness)Betretenheit f
(= clumsiness)Unbeholfenheit f


[ˈɔːkwədnɪs] n (of situation, problem) → difficoltà, delicatezza; (of arrangement) → scomodità; (of silence) → imbarazzo; (of movement, behaviour) → goffaggine f
the awkwardness of his prose style → lo stile contorto della sua prosa


(ˈoːkwəd) adjective
1. not graceful or elegant. an awkward movement.
2. difficult or causing difficulty, embarrassment etc. an awkward question; an awkward silence; His cut is in an awkward place.
ˈawkwardly adverb
ˈawkwardness noun
References in classic literature ?
The ill-assorted and injudicious attire of the individual only served to render his awkwardness more conspicuous.
Carr, who had dined with his friends under the excuse of not adding to the awkwardness of the first day's housekeeping returned late at night with a mass of papers and drawings, into which he afterwards withdrew, but not until he had delivered himself of a mysterious package entrusted to him by the young men for his daughters.
She had done for them quite beautifully--she was a most respectable person-- till her death, the great awkwardness of which had, precisely, left no alternative but the school for little Miles.
But this awkwardness only lasted a minute, because the strange captain, observing at a glance how affairs stood, cried out, I see, I see
My awkwardness was almost always his ex- cuse for whipping me.
The older a person grows, Harriet, the more important it is that their manners should not be bad; the more glaring and disgusting any loudness, or coarseness, or awkwardness becomes.
I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness.
I was half inclined to make it try; however, he moved off to open the door, and, as he raised the latch, he looked up to the inscription above, and said, with a stupid mixture of awkwardness and elation: "Miss Catherine
asked the captain, with an awkwardness and hesitation strongly at variance with his customary ease of manner.
Between her agitation, and her natural awkwardness in getting out of the cart, Peggotty was making a most extraordinary festoon of herself, but I felt too blank and strange to tell her so.
Godfrey, sorely uncomfortable under this significant insistence about Nancy, and afraid to think where it would end by the time his father had set his usual hospitable example of drinking before and after supper, saw no course open but to turn to Nancy and say, with as little awkwardness as possible--
In his seat he had nothing of the awkwardness of the convent, but displayed the easy and habitual grace of a well-trained horseman.