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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + -ward, -ward.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.