un·​club·​ba·​ble ˌən-ˈklə-bə-bəl How to pronounce unclubbable (audio)

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Unclubbable Comes From a Well-Known Wordsmith

The word unclubbable dates to the 1760s, a time when lexicographer Samuel Johnson was still riding a wave of fame in the wake of the publication of his 1755 A Dictionary of the English Language. Johnson himself likely coined unclubbable. Earliest evidence of the word in use is from a 1764 (or thereabouts) entry in author Fanny Burney's diary, in which she quotes Johnson as using the word to describe a friend. Johnson likely also coined the unflattering descriptor's antonym, though years later: his biographer, James Boswell, reported that Johnson applied the word to Boswell himself. It was, however, Johnson to whom the term clubbable stuck. For Johnson, a person's clubbability was likely determined by how well the person might do in a very particular club: "The Club"—later known as "The Literary Club"—established by Johnson and the artist Joshua Reynolds in 1764.

Examples of unclubbable in a Sentence

for such a decidedly unclubbable man, politics was an odd career choice
Recent Examples on the Web Yet, as is often the case, even the most unclubbable individuals may attract enthusiasts. Adrian Woolfson, WSJ, 31 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unclubbable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1764, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of unclubbable was circa 1764


Dictionary Entries Near unclubbable

Cite this Entry

“Unclubbable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unclubbable. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

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