un·​equal | \ ˌən-ˈē-kwəl How to pronounce unequal (audio) \

Definition of unequal

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : not of the same measurement, quantity, or number as another
b : not like or not the same as another in degree, worth, or status
2 : not uniform : variable, uneven
3a : badly balanced or matched an unequal contest
b : contracted between unequals unequal marriages
c archaic : not equable
4 archaic : not equitable : unjust
5 : inadequate, insufficient unequal to the task



Definition of unequal (Entry 2 of 3)

: one that is not equal to another



Definition of unequal (Entry 3 of 3)

: in an unequal manner unequal match'd— William Shakespeare

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Other Words from unequal


unequally \ ˌən-​ˈē-​kwə-​lē How to pronounce unequal (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for unequal

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of unequal in a Sentence

Adjective unequal academic standards for male and female students unequal justice based on race
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Hawkins said more Americans are also realizing the decades of unequal treatment brought by state drug laws and are more vocal in rectifying them. Ivan Pereira, ABC News, "Legal marijuana movement builds as more states change laws," 8 Apr. 2021 Schar School questions are not identical, moving from a 57-percentage point gap in 1969 to a 7-point gap in 2020 is an indication that black and white views have moved closer to one another over time on the question of unequal treatment. Karlyn Bowman, Forbes, "The Court Of Public Opinion: The Chauvin Trial And The Police," 7 Apr. 2021 Kendi’s belief in unequal treatment and discrimination has been embraced in fashionable left-wing circles. Tom Cotton, National Review, "There’s No Place in America’s Military for Racist Training," 1 Apr. 2021 With many Europeans unvaccinated and some receiving products that aren’t yet approved by the E.U. medical regulator, concerns over unequal treatment have mounted. Washington Post, "E.U. unveils vaccine passport plan to enable summer travel," 17 Mar. 2021 The movement has grown out of anger at police violence disproportionately targeting Black Americans, and a long history of unequal treatment in the criminal justice system. Ines Novacic, CBS News, "What does it mean to defund the police?," 11 Mar. 2021 The state must be empowered to enforce unequal treatment in order to produce equitable outcomes; and the path to equity is one that invariably leads to socialism, even if the economic system retains a semblance of capitalism. WSJ, "Equality Goes With Freedom, Equity Doesn’t," 11 Mar. 2021 Mailchimp recently hit the news as allegations of bullying, sexism, and unequal pay came out. Kara Dennison, Forbes, "How To Recognize The Warning Signs Of A Toxic Workplace," 28 Feb. 2021 Since the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus’ wrath has been unequal. Dallas News, "A year without: How Texas survived the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic," 10 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unequal.' 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 unequal


1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1600, in the meaning defined above


1602, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for unequal

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The first known use of unequal was in 1565

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Statistics for unequal

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unequal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unequal. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for unequal



English Language Learners Definition of unequal

: not the same in a way that is unfair : giving more advantages, power, etc., to some people and less to other people for unfair reasons
: different in number, degree, quality, size, etc.
: not able to do what is needed


un·​equal | \ ˌən-ˈē-kwəl How to pronounce unequal (audio) \

Kids Definition of unequal

1 : not alike (as in size or value)
2 : badly balanced or matched an unequal fight
3 : not having the needed abilities They proved unequal to the task.

Other Words from unequal

unequally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on unequal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unequal

Nglish: Translation of unequal for Spanish Speakers

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