thank·​less | \ ˈthaŋk-ləs How to pronounce thankless (audio) \

Definition of thankless

1 : not likely to obtain thanks : unappreciated a thankless task
2 : not expressing or feeling gratitude : ungrateful how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child— William Shakespeare

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Other Words from thankless

thanklessly adverb
thanklessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for thankless


unappreciative, ungrateful


appreciative, grateful, obliged, thankful

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Examples of thankless in a Sentence

a thankless boss who seems oblivious to the extra effort his subordinates have made the thankless job of cleaning up after a party

Recent Examples on the Web

Crudup underplays well in what’s mostly a thankless role, while Quinn — who also sings the song heard over the end credits — shines in conveying Grace’s own stricken journey. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore face off in the melodramatic ‘After the Wedding’," 8 Aug. 2019 All administrative jobs are almost by definition going to be thankless, especially when attention focuses on substantive rulings on at least an annual basis. Hugh Hewitt, Twin Cities, "Hugh Hewitt: A chief justice’s underappreciated legacy comes into focus," 27 June 2019 While media and politicians debated whether the new law was a bailout for utilities, the legislation’s details were all about giving the PUC the thankless job of inventing complicated new rules around prevention and costs of wildfires. Joe Mathews, The Mercury News, "Mathews: California PUC seems to regulate everything. What’s next?," 28 July 2019 Perhaps the day will come when he’s honored for all his service, including the thankless task of inquiring into the 2016 election. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Mueller deserves our gratitude; Our next moonshot? Saving planet Earth; Feeling unsafe on the bus; George F. Will not “right wing” (7/26/19)," 26 July 2019 Representative Jenniffer González-Colón, the current resident commissioner, enjoys broad support but is unlikely to leave her perch in Washington for what is likely to be a thankless job as a caretaker governor. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, "Uncertainty Over Puerto Rico Governor’s Successor Could Lead to More Unrest," 25 July 2019 And many are thankless jobs, like the poor security staff who get beat up all day. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Comic-Con organizers reveal what’s behind the curtain," 21 July 2019 Being a candidate’s spouse can be a thankless job, defined by either holding down the fort at home or vamping as the warm-up act on the trail. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, "The ‘Wife Guys’ of the 2020 presidential race," 20 June 2019 There are thankless jobs, and then there is Li Li Leung’s job. Alice Park, Time, "Can Anyone Save the Scandal-Plagued USA Gymnastics? Li Li Leung Is Determined to Try," 13 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thankless.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of thankless

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for thankless

Last Updated

16 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for thankless

The first known use of thankless was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for thankless



English Language Learners Definition of thankless

: difficult and not valued by other people
: not showing or feeling thanks


thank·​less | \ ˈthaŋk-ləs How to pronounce thankless (audio) \

Kids Definition of thankless

2 : not appreciated It's a necessary but thankless job.

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More from Merriam-Webster on thankless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thankless

Spanish Central: Translation of thankless

Nglish: Translation of thankless for Spanish Speakers

Comments on thankless

What made you want to look up thankless? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to shake or wave menacingly

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