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 unequally (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 Some athletes have said the virus is also hindering their training, and could create an unequal playing field in Tokyo this summer. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "USOPC official echoes IOC stance on Tokyo Olympics, says we 'don't have to make a decision' right now," 20 Mar. 2020 Wiler complained about unequal pay and working conditions prior to her filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017 and continued to do so until she was forced to resign, according to the suit. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Former Kent State University women’s field hockey coach sues, says she made far less than male counterparts," 6 Mar. 2020 Some Democratic voters complained about an unequal number of voting machines compared with machines for Republican voters, causing longer waits for Democrats. Lavendrick Smith, Dallas News, "Long lines, broken machines causing frustration for some voters in Dallas, Tarrant counties," 3 Mar. 2020 For example, African American women — a demographic at risk of unequal and inadequate medical treatment — are three times more likely to die from complications due to hypertension during pregnancy. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "Women face some unique risks for heart disease. Here are symptoms to look out for.," 11 Feb. 2020 Instead of unequal liberties, plural, give everyone the same liberty, singular. The Economist, "Open Future The power of liberalism can combat oppression in all its forms," 8 Jan. 2020 In 1951, Barbara Johns organized a walkout of her African American school to protest the unequal facility conditions and overcrowding. NBC News, "Virginia Governor seeks bill replacing Robert E. Lee statue in U.S. Capitol," 2 Jan. 2020 Over the course of the neoliberal era, economies around the world have become more and more unequal. Ganesh Sitaraman, The New Republic, "The Collapse of Neoliberalism," 23 Dec. 2019 But the second historical crisis points in a different direction: beyond the sturm and drang of the Trump presidency, Americans are grappling with the most unequal economic landscape since the Gilded Age. Time, "The Real 2020 Battle Lines: 'Hope' Versus 'Change'," 4 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of unequal was in 1565

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Statistics for unequal

Last Updated

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unequal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unequal. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for unequal


How to pronounce unequal (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on unequal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unequal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unequal

Spanish Central: Translation of unequal

Nglish: Translation of unequal for Spanish Speakers

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