Sunday, April 24, 2016


Definition: (from
1. Often, curds. a substance consisting mainly of casein and the like,obtained from milk by coagulation, and used as food or made into cheese
2. any substance resembling this
3. Also called curd cheese. Chiefly Northeastern and Southern U.S. cottage cheese
4. the edible flower heads of cauliflower, broccoli, and similar plants
-verb (used with or without object)
5. to turn into curd; coagulate; congeal

"Would you like some lemon curd with your crumpet?"
"Curd is much more delicious than it sounds."

Word Origin: (from
"c. 1500, metathesis of crud (late 14c.), originally 'any coagulated substance,' probably from Old English crudan 'to press, drive,' from PIE root *greut- 'to press, coagulate,' perhaps via ancestor of Gaelic gruth (because cognates are unknown in other Germanic or Romance languages)."

Awkwardness rating: 5

Curd: sounds gross, tastes good. (

Monday, February 15, 2016


Definition: (from
1. an implement edged with rubber or the like, for removing water from windows after washing, sweeping water from wet decks, etc.
2. a similar and smaller device, as for removing excess water from photographic negatives or prints or for forcing paint, ink, etc., through a porous surface, as in serigraphy
-verb (used with object)
3. to sweep, scrape, or press with or as if with a squeegee
4. to force (paint, ink, etc.) through a screen in making a silk-screen print

"She'll need a squeegee to get all that makeup off of her face."
"The Williams sisters will not play on a tennis court that isn't properly squeegeed after a rainstorm."

Origin: (from
"'wooden scraping instrument with a rubber blade,' 1844, a nautical word originally, perhaps from squeege 'to press' (1782), an alteration of squeeze (v.). Later in photography, then window-washing."

Awkwardness rating: 7

The legendary squeegee. (

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Most Awkward Word of 2015: Fleek

It's that time of year again! Oxford Dictionary released their "Word of the Year 2015" list with several awkward options. My personal favorite is "fleek." I can't take myself, or anyone else, seriously when this word is used in conversation.

Definition: (from
-adjective, Slang. (usually used in the adjectival phrase on fleek)
1. flawlessly styled, groomed, etc.; looking great
2. perfect; flawless

"The posts on the Awkward Words Blog are on fleek!"
"After primping for two hours straight, Barbie was sure she looked on fleek."

Word Origin: (from Oxford Dictionaries)
"On 21 June 2014, a Vine user called ‘Peaches Monroee’— the online pseudonym of a young American woman named Kayla Newman from the Chicago area—uploaded a video in which she approvingly described her eyebrows as on fleek. Her video went viral and so did the phrase, surging on social media and making its way into the lyrics of songs by the likes of Nicki Minaj. It showed up on Oxford’s monitor corpus for the first time in October 2014, and peaked there just a few months later, in January 2015. That type of steep rise is often followed by a precipitous fall, as a novel slang word loses cachet and is abandoned, but on fleek has continued to register relatively steady use this year, suggesting that English speakers are not yet ready to let it go."

Awkwardness rating: 6

Don't worry, Andy, the AWB is here to help!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Definition: (from
1. askew; awry
2. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered
3. diagonally; obliquely

"The little girl scowled at her mother when she put the plate of cookies catawampus to her on the long table."
"The normally straight line of reindeer became catawampus when Santa accidentally dropped a cookie on the way to his sleigh."

Origin: (from
"also catawampous, cattywampus, catiwampus, etc. (see 'Dictionary of American Slang' for more), American colloquial. First element perhaps from obsolete cater 'to set or move diagonally' (see catty-cornered); second element perhaps related to Scottish wampish 'to wriggle, twist, or swerve about.' Or perhaps simply the sort of jocular pseudo-classical formation popular in the slang of those times, with the first element suggesting Greek kata-.

Earliest use seems to be in adverbial form, catawampusly (1834), expressing no certain meaning but adding intensity to the action: 'utterly, completely; with avidity, fiercely, eagerly.' It appears as a noun from 1843, as a name for an imaginary hobgoblin or fright, perhaps from influence of catamount. The adjective is attested from the 1840s as an intensive, but this is only in British lampoons of American speech and might not be authentic. It was used in the U.S. by 1864 in a sense of 'askew, awry, wrong' and by 1873 (noted as a peculiarity of North Carolina speech) as 'in a diagonal position, on a bias, crooked.'"

Awkwardness rating: 8

I'll go catawampus any day for a cookie. (

Monday, August 24, 2015


Definition: (from
-verb (used without object)
1. to engage in a petty quarrel
-verb (used with object)
2. Printing. to disarrange and mix (composed type)
3. a petty quarrel

"There was a heated squabble over the last piece of cake at the party. After that, holidays were awkward for years."
"The couple began to squabble about who would pay the check. You can guess who lost that one."

Origin: (from
"c. 1600, probably from a Scandinavian source and of imitative origin (compare dialectal Swedish skvabbel 'a quarrel, a dispute,' dialectal German schwabbeln 'to babble, prattle'). The verb also is from c. 1600."

Awkwardness rating: 7


Monday, August 10, 2015


Definition: (from
1. the thick-bodied, sluggish larva of several insects, as of a scarab beetle
2. a dull, plodding person; drudge
3. an unkempt person
4. Slang. food; victuals
5. any remaining roots or stumps after cutting vegetation to clear land for farming
-verb (used with object), grubbed, grubbing
6. to dig; clear of roots, stumps, etc.
7. to dig up by the roots; uproot (often followed by up or out)
8. Slang. to supply with food; feed
9. Slang. to scrounge
-verb (used without object), grubbed, grubbing
10. to dig; search by or as if by digging
11. to lead a laborious or groveling life; drudge
12. to engage in laborious study
13. Slang. to eat; take food
"I'm starving - can we get some grub?"
"Why don't you do some laundry; you look like a grub!"

Origin: (from
"'larva of an insect,' early 15c., perhaps from grub (v.) on the notion of 'digging insect,' or from the possibly unrelated Middle English grub 'dwarfish fellow' (c. 1400). Meaning 'dull drudge' is 1650s. The slang sense of 'food' is first recorded 1650s, said to be from birds eating grubs, but also often linked with bub 'drink.'"

Awkwardness rating: 6

Look at all that grub! (

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Definition: (from
1. contained in or carried on by letters
2. of, relating to, or consisting of letters

"This epistolary novel focuses on the unrequited love between a man and his television."
"Their epistolary relationship was abruptly ended at the start of the great pencil shortage."

Origin: (from
"1650s, from French √©pistolaire, from Late Latin epistolarius 'of or belonging to letters,' from Latin epistola 'a letter, a message' (see epistle). In Middle English as a noun (early 15c.), 'book containing epistles read in the Mass,' from Medieval Latinepistolarium."

Awkwardness rating: 5

Dear Television, How I love thee. (