Open main menu




Etymology 1Edit

From Old Norse ǫfugr, ǫfigr, afigr (turned backwards) (whence Danish avet (backwards), Swedish avig (turned backwards)), from Proto-Germanic[1]. Cognate with German äbich, Gothic 𐌹𐌱𐌿𐌺𐍃 (ibuks, turned back)[2]. Akin to Sanskrit अपाच् (apāc, turned away) [3]. Compare dialectal Danish ave (to turn), Icelandic öfga (to reverse).


awk (comparative more awk, superlative most awk)

  1. (obsolete) Odd; out of order; perverse.
  2. (obsolete) Wrong, or not commonly used; clumsy; sinister
    the awk end of a rod (the butt end).
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Golding to this entry?)
  3. (obsolete, Britain, dialectal) Clumsy in performance or manners; not dexterous; awkward.
    Synonym: unhandy
    • 1815 Sir Egerton Brydges, Archaica: Harvey's Four letters, and sonnets, touching Robert Greene; Pierce's supererogation; [and] New letter of notable contents. Brathwaite's Essays upon the five senses, From the private press of Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, printed by T. Davison, p142
      [] whose wild and madbrain humour nothing fitteth so just, as the stalest dudgen or absurdest balductum, that they or their mates can invent in odd and awk speeches []
  4. (US slang, of a situation) Awkward; uncomfortable.

Derived termsEdit


awk (comparative more awk, superlative most awk)

  1. (obsolete) Perversely; in the wrong way.

Etymology 2Edit

From the initial letters of the surnames of its authors: Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan.

Proper nounEdit


  1. (computing) A Unix scripting language or the command line interface itself.
    I used C, Perl, the Bourne shell, and some awk and tcl to implement these projects.


  1. ^ awkward” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
  2. ^ Germanic cognates in Deutsches Wörterbuch
  3. ^ awk in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.