1300-50;Middle English, equivalent to awk(e), auk(e) ‘backhanded’, Old English*afoc (< Old Norseǫfugr ‘turned the wrong way’; cognate with Old Saxon,Old High Germanabuh,Old Englishafu(h)lic ‘wrong’, off) + -ward-ward
1704, "lack of grace," from awkward + -ness. Meaning "physical clumsiness" is attested from c.1770; that of "social embarrassment" is from 1788.
mid-14c., "in the wrong direction," from awk "back-handed" + adverbial suffix -weard (see -ward). Meaning "clumsy" first recorded 1520s. Related: Awkwardly. Other formations from awk, none of them surviving, were awky, awkly, awkness.