thank·less | \ˈthaŋk-ləs \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from thankless

thanklessly adverb
thanklessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for thankless


unappreciated, ungrateful



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Jason Seaman represents the best of us, an adult with brains and talent who chose a mostly thankless career with long hours and little pay. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: As Noblesville hero Jason Seaman heals, a community heals with him," 28 May 2018 Among the more ridiculous elements in the script: the extent to which Diane’s adult daughters (Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton, in thankless parts) treat her like a child who’s unable to care for herself. Jocelyn Noveck, Detroit Free Press, "Review: Uneven ‘Book Club’ is both sweet and hokey," 17 May 2018 Typically, though, Holaday’s role is a thankless one. Matthew Defranks,, "Inside the thankless yet essential routine of Marlins backup catcher Bryan Holaday," 10 July 2018 Basketball officials have a hard job on the best of days and, at times, a tough, thankless and abuse-laden lot. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "NCAA's lash leaves no mark on U of L's women's coach Jeff Walz," 26 May 2018 Charles Rettig, a California tax lawyer who specializes in defending wealthy clients in complex cases, is poised to get one of the most thankless jobs in government. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Senate Panel to Meet on Trump’s IRS Pick," 22 June 2018 Resentful Brady Mom Dear Resentful: Being a stepparent is a generally thankless job. Amy Dickinson,, "Kids in 'Brady Bunch' family retreat to their corners," 23 Mar. 2018 To sideline him, Greenwood proposed what seemed a thankless task: reviewing Britain’s social-insurance schemes. The Economist, "The welfare state needs updating," 12 July 2018 These are the Baltimoreans who do the often thankless and unrecognized work of making Baltimore brighter, healthier, better. Quinn Kelley,, "It’s easy to feel disenchanted with Baltimore. It’s much easier to remember why we love it.," 13 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of thankless

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thankless

Statistics for thankless

Last Updated

30 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thankless

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

Kids Definition of thankless

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a generally accepted meaning of a word

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!