1. Let's assume an inexperienced guy who doesn't know where to say what to a girl at the first meeting and says some irrelevant and out-of-place words which may even offend the girl.


  1. Let's suppose a serviceman who's not mastery of repairing a laundry machine, because he had just recently started his job and has not experienced various damages on a particular piece of the machine and accordingly is not well familiar with the way he should fix it.


  1. Please imagine a girl who does't know e.g. Salsa Dance well and when it comes to dancing, she constantly treads on her partners foot.

What would you call all these people? "Clumsy" or "awkward"?

To me, they both are interchangeable in these senses and the only nuance that strikes to me is that "awkward" is a bit formal comparing to "clumsy".

Please note that I'm well aware that "awkward" is broader in meaning, but I'm specifically asking about these situations.

I have read the similar link, but still I cannot tell them apart!

Some sources that I read prior to posting this question to the forum:

https://hinative.com/en-US/questions/30654 https://hinative.com/en-US/questions/50746 https://www.myenglishteacher.eu/ask/question/clumsy-awkward-difference/

  • salsa dancing, :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 21:11

2 Answers 2

    • doesn't know what to say; says irrelevant, out-of-place things: awkward in general
    • may even offend the girl: clumsy choice of words
    • inexperienced, e.g. keeps dropping things or applying too little or too much force, etc.: clumsy
    • doesn't know how to fix something: neither clumsy nor awkward, but may result in a clumsy attempt if they do try
    • inexperienced; potentially unnatural movements: awkward dancer
    • she constantly treads on her partner's foot: clumsy

The question was

"What would you call all these people? "Clumsy" or "awkward"?"

For the following reasons I would not call the people clumsy or awkward, although I would say the situations they found themselves to be in were certainly awkward

awkward; adjective (EMBARRASSING) causing problems, worry, or embarrassment: (see link2 below)

In example 1. you are indicating that the girl maybe be offended by the rudeness of the boy, So not clumsy. However, an awkward situation could arise.

In your other examples you have pointed out that the route cause is inexperience. Therefore in both cases they would not be clumsy. However, in both cases, because of the lack of experience an awkward situation could arise.

Please imagine a girl who knows Salsa Dance but when it comes to dancing, she constantly treads on her partners foot. This girl could be said to be clumsy as her dancing is awkward.

clumsy; awkward in movement or manner:Cambridge E.D.

awkward; moving in a way that is not natural, relaxed, or attractive:Cambridge E.D.

  • So your choice would be "awkward" for all three cases @Brad. Right?
    – A-friend
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 19:39
  • @A-friend; I have amended my answer to answer your comment
    – Brad
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 14:16

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