Learn a new word every week
1 one of the most awkward jobs is painting a ceiling: DIFFICULT, tricky; British informal fiddly. ANTONYMS easy, straightforward
2 the box was heavy and awkward to carry: CUMBERSOME, unwieldy, unhandy; informal a devil; vulgar slang a bugger, a bastard; rare cumbrous, lumbersome.
3 I'm sorry to call at such an awkward time: INCONVENIENT, difficult, inappropriate, inopportune, unfortunate; archaic unseasonable. ANTONYMS convenient
4 you've put me in a very awkward position: EMBARRASSING, uncomfortable, unpleasant, delicate, ticklish, tricky, sensitive, problematic, problematical, troublesome, perplexing, thorny, vexatious; humiliating, compromising; informal sticky, dicey, hairy, cringeworthy, cringe-making; British informal dodgy; North American informal gnarly.
5 I felt awkward standing in front of the whole class: EMBARRASSED, self-conscious, uncomfortable, ill at ease, uneasy, tense, nervous, edgy, unrelaxed, strained; rare unquiet. ANTONYMS relaxed, at ease
6 he was long-legged and rather awkward | his awkward movements: CLUMSY, ungainly, uncoordinated, maladroit, graceless, ungraceful, inept, inelegant, unskillful, unhandy, all thumbs, gauche, gawky, gangling, blundering, lumbering, cloddish; wooden, stiff; coltish; British all fingers and thumbs; informal clodhopping, ham-fisted, ham-handed, with two left feet, cack-handed; archaic lubberly. ANTONYMS graceful, adroit
7 British you're being damned awkward: UNREASONABLE, uncooperative, unhelpful, difficult, annoying, obstructive, unaccommodating, refractory, disobliging, contrary, perverse, tiresome, exasperating, trying; stubborn, obstinate; Scottish thrawn; informal cussed, pesky; British informal bloody-minded, bolshie; North American informal balky; archaic contumacious, froward; rare renitent, pervicacious. ANTONYMS amenable, cooperative
late Middle English (in the sense ‘the wrong way round, upside down’): from dialect awk ‘backwards, perverse, clumsy’ (from Old Norse afugr ‘turned the wrong way’) + -ward.
Last week's word
1 [with indefinite pronoun or adverb] in addition; besides: anything else you need to know? | they will offer low prices but little else | I just brought basics—I wasn't sure what else you'd want.
2 [with indefinite pronoun or adverb] different; instead: isn't there anyone else you could ask? | they took songs owned by someone else and used them without permission | they moved on to somewhere else | it's fate, destiny, or whatever else you like to call it.
3 short for or else: keep your mouth shut, else you might contradict my story.
used to introduce the second of two alternatives: she felt tempted either to shout at him or else to let his tantrums slide by.
• in circumstances different from those mentioned; if it were not the case: they can't want it, or else they'd request it.
• used to warn what will happen if something is not carried out: you go along with this or else you're going to jail.
• used as a warning or a threat: she'd better shape up, or else.
Old English elles, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch els and Swedish eljest.