un·​equal | \ ˌən-ˈē-kwəl \

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 \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for unequal

Synonyms: Adjective

changing, erratic, fluctuating, irregular, uneven, unstable, unsteady, varying

Antonyms: Adjective

changeless, constant, stable, steady, unchanging, unvarying

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Examples of unequal in a Sentence


unequal academic standards for male and female students unequal justice based on race

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Massachusetts 7th Congressional District is the most diverse district in our delegation, and also one of the most unequal. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "2019's Barrier-Breaking Politicians Get to Work," 3 Jan. 2019 Yet, like nearly all states, Washington offers unequal financial support, limited service and uncertain custodial standing. Marcus Harrison Green, The Seattle Times, "Grandparents raising grandkids say they need more help from Washington state," 28 Dec. 2018 The planet, Urras, is a lot like ours: beautiful, capitalistic, unequal, and filled with nations in continuous cold and hot wars. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Nor is there a tournament in the separate-but-unequal world of black amateur tennis that goes unmentioned. Edward Kosner, WSJ, "‘Arthur Ashe’ Review: A Hard Road to Glory," 17 Aug. 2018 Income inequality is a natural place to start because, among the rich countries, the U.S. is the most unequal. Alan S. Blinder, WSJ, "What if Trump Really Wanted to Make America Great Again?," 3 Dec. 2018 Airlines have reported some of the widest pay gaps, yet are unlikely to have unequal pay, because collective bargaining tends to determine salaries in the industry. The Economist, "Forcing employers to reveal their gender pay gaps is making them think," 5 Apr. 2018 Latin America’s largest nation is one of the most unequal in the world, making Franco’s rise in politics all the more unusual. Washington Post, "Thousands in Rio demand answers about murder of councilwoman," 20 Mar. 2018 Just two years after the crash, the nation’s Gini coefficient, the standard measure of wealth distribution, was at 46.9, making the US among the most unequal of modern democracies. Scott Timberg, Vox, "How music has responded to a decade of economic inequality," 30 July 2018

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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Statistics for unequal

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unequal

The first known use of unequal was in 1565

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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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on unequal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unequal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unequal

Spanish Central: Translation of unequal

Nglish: Translation of unequal for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unequal

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


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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