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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Awk \Awk\ ([add]k), a. [OE. auk, awk (properly) turned away; (hence) contrary, wrong, from Icel. ["o]figr, ["o]fugr, afigr, turning the wrong way, fr. af off, away; cf. OHG. abuh, Skr. ap[=a]c turned away, fr. apa off, away + a root ak, a[u^]k, to bend, from which come also E. angle, anchor.]

  1. Odd; out of order; perverse. [Obs.]

  2. Wrong, or not commonly used; clumsy; sinister; as, the awk end of a rod (the but end). [Obs.]

  3. Clumsy in performance or manners; unhandy; not dexterous; awkward. [Obs. or Prov. Eng.]


Awk \Awk\, adv. Perversely; in the wrong way.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

mid-15c., "turned the wrong way," from Old Norse afugr "turned backwards, wrong, contrary," from Proto-Germanic *afug-, from PIE *apu-ko-, from root *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Obsolete since 17c.


a. 1 (context obsolete English) odd; out of order; perverse. 2 (context obsolete English) wrong, or not commonly used; clumsy; sinister; as, ''the awk end of a rod'' (the butt end). 3 (context obsolete UK dialect English) Clumsy in performance or manners; unhandy; not dexterous; awkward. 4 (context US slang of a situation English) awkward; uncomfortable. adv. (label en obsolete) perverse; in the wrong way. n. (context usually attributive computing English) Code written in or skill in using the ''awk'' language. n. (context computing English) A Unix scripting language or the command line interface itself.


AWK is a programming language designed for text processing and typically used as a data extraction and reporting tool. It is a standard feature of most Unix-like operating systems.

The AWK language is a data-driven scripting language consisting of a set of actions to be taken against streams of textual data – either run directly on files or used as part of a pipeline – for purposes of extracting or transforming text, such as producing formatted reports. The language extensively uses the string datatype, associative arrays (that is, arrays indexed by key strings), and regular expressions. While AWK has a limited intended application domain and was especially designed to support one-liner programs, the language is Turing-complete, and even the early Bell Labs users of AWK often wrote well-structured large AWK programs.

AWK was created at Bell Labs in the 1970s, and its name is derived from the surnames of its authors – Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan. The acronym is pronounced the same as the name of the bird auk (which acts as an emblem of the language such as on The AWK Programming Language book cover – the book is often referred to by the abbreviation TAPL). When written in all lowercase letters, as awk, it refers to the Unix or Plan 9 program that runs scripts written in the AWK programming language.

AWK (disambiguation)

AWK is an interpreted programming language designed for text processing and typically used as a data extraction and reporting tool.

AWK or awk may also refer to:

  • Adwick railway station in the National Rail code for the United Kingdom
  • American Water (company), a public utility company operating in the United States and Canada
  • Andrew W.K., an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, entertainer, motivational speaker, and music producer
  • Wake Island Airfield (IATA code), an American military airport on Wake Island
  • Awabakal language, ISO 639-3 language code

Usage examples of "awk".

Sea birds circled the ship all day long, so that they got used to the sight of fulmars and kittiwakes, awks, and mers: a plenitude of food if ever they were in short supply.

I run into Miss Dawn Astra in the street a couple of times, and she always asks me if the parrot says anything as yet, and when I tell her nothing but awk, it seems to make her quite happy, so I judge she figures that Ambrose is bound to get tired of listening to nothing but awk and will return to her.