Etymology: Middle English awkeward in the wrong direction, from awke turned the wrong way, from Old Norse ǫfugr; akin to Old High German abuh turned the wrong way
1. obsolete perverse
2. archaic unfavorable, adverse
a. lacking dexterity or skill (as in the use of hands) <awkward with a needle and thread> b. showing the result of a lack of expertness <awkward pictures> 4. a. lacking ease or grace (as of movement or expression) <awkward writing> b. lacking the right proportions, size, or harmony of parts ; ungainly <an awkward design> 5. a. lacking social grace and assurance <an awkward newcomer> b. causing embarrassment <an awkward moment> 6. not easy to handle or deal with ; requiring great skill, ingenuity, or care <an awkward load> <an awkward diplomatic situation> • awkwardly adverb • awkwardness noun Synonyms: awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact <periods of awkward silence>. clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill <a clumsy mechanic>. maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations <a maladroit politician>. inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy <. gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding <felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties>.
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.