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

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

In the past six years, his government has managed to subdue a substantial portion of endemic violence bred from unequal income distribution, political unrest and drug trafficking, breaking a pattern four decades old. Maureen Orth, Town & Country, "Inside Cartagena," 11 Jan. 2013 That said, certain mental health conditions still largely remain in the shadows, with an unequal share of awareness and attention. Carolyn Kylstra, SELF, "Mental Health Awareness Means Talking About All Types of Mental Illness," 29 Mar. 2019 Los Angeles Times Employers should not base a worker's wages on his or her past salary because that could exacerbate unequal pay between men and women, a federal appeals court decided Monday. Benjamin Oreskes, latimes.com, "Essential California: Zuckerberg's apology tour," 10 Apr. 2018 At the heart of unequal pay is the asymmetry between employers, who know everyone’s salary, and employees, who are entitled to know no one’s but their own. The Economist, "How to narrow Britain’s gender-pay gap," 7 Apr. 2018 For many in Brazil, one of the world’s most unequal countries, Franco was a symbol of hope, in large part because such prominence for a black woman from a poor neighborhood was rare. Sergio Ramalho, The Seattle Times, "Sister of slain Brazilian councilwoman calls for justice," 14 Jan. 2019 Companies say unequal voting rights enable them to escape the short-termism of stockmarkets. The Economist, "Hong Kong and Singapore succumb to the lure of dual-class shares," 1 Mar. 2018 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

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

24 Apr 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 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

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).


having no equal

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