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 The cost to bail yourself out of jail widely varied from city to city in Northeast Ohio, resulting in unequal treatment for people accused of the same crime. Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland, "2016, the year the Cavs won the championship and the RNC came to CLE: Biggest stories of the 2010s," 23 Dec. 2019 Now that Buck is facing trial, activists say the case proves that justice is unequal. Melanie Eversley, Fortune, "Wealthy Democratic Party Donor Ed Buck Facing Eviction From Apartment Where 2 Men Found Dead," 9 Dec. 2019 If the economy is unequal to begin with, the poorest agent's wealth will probably decrease the fastest. Bruce M. Boghosian, Scientific American, "Is Inequality Inevitable?," 1 Nov. 2019 France is less unequal than countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, but income inequality is widening. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, "Can Emmanuel Macron Stem the Populist Tide?," 24 June 2019 And now, in 2019, the state had proposed a plan that many residents argued amounted to an attempt to codify separate and unequal schools in the city. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "An Attempt to Resegregate Little Rock, of All Places," 22 Oct. 2019 Nearly 15 percent of Thailand’s citizens live in Bangkok, and many cling to the fringes of one of the world’s most unequal societies. BostonGlobe.com, "For three generations, a dim alley in Bangkok’s Chinatown was home to a rice porridge stand opened by an immigrant from southern China. Then, in 2017, the street stall was included in Michelin’s Bangkok edition.," 15 Dec. 2019 Economic explanations make much of the way in which seemingly minor knocks to living standards (a 4% rise in metro fares in Chile, for example) proved the final straw for people struggling to get by in increasingly unequal societies. The Economist, "We all want to change the world Economics, demography and social media only partly explain the protests roiling so many countries today," 14 Nov. 2019 Parents understand something profound about living in a powerfully unequal society. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "Why College Became So Expensive," 3 Sep. 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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unequal.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unequal. Accessed 18 January 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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