General English

  • adjective embarrassing or difficult to deal with
  • adjective difficult to use or deal with because of shape, size or position
  • adjective not relaxed or confident on social occasions
  • adjective clumsy and unattractive in appearance or movement


  • used to describe a wine that has poor structure or is not correctly balanced

Origin & History of “awkward”

when awkward was coined, in Scotland and northern England, it meant ‘turned in the wrong direction’. middle English had an adjective awk, which meant ‘the wrong way round, backhanded’, and hence ‘perverse’, and with the addition of the suffix -ward this became awkward. Awk itself was adopted from Old Norse afugr, which is related to German ab ‘away’ and English off. Awkward followed a similar semantic path to awk, via ‘perverse, ill-adapted’ to ‘clumsy’.