un·​for·​giv·​ing | \ˌən-fər-ˈgi-viŋ \

Definition of unforgiving 

1 : unwilling or unable to forgive

2 : having or making no allowance for error or weakness an unforgiving environment where false moves can prove fatal— Jaclyn Fierman

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from unforgiving

unforgivingness noun

Examples of unforgiving in a Sentence

They are unforgiving of the smallest mistake. the unforgiving world of politics

Recent Examples on the Web

At the heart of this debate is what has become known as the Rwanda model: free-market overhauls prescribed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, paired with the unforgiving leadership of Mr. Kagame. Gabriele Steinhauser, WSJ, "Rwanda: A Poster Child for Development With a Dark Side," 6 Nov. 2018 Sixteen of the 32 teams are still alive, and now comes the unforgiving knockout stage, starting Saturday morning with a scintillating matchup between France and Argentina. Michelle Kaufman, miamiherald, "2018 World Cup Round of 16 Preview: Everything You Need to Know," 29 June 2018 In conditions so unforgiving, minor problems cascade into major threats and can get away from the most experienced captains. Earl Swift, Outside Online, "The Incredible True Story of the Henrietta C.," 20 June 2018 Russell is the greatest defensive player and pure winner in league history, with a fiercely unforgiving mental command that seemed to dictate the proceedings at the most crucial times. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "How the Warriors, Cavaliers are linked in history," 30 May 2018 That was there to set the stakes of how brutal and dangerous it’s going to be for these girls, how unforgiving. Siobhan Burke, New York Times, "Clare Barron on ‘Dance Moms,’ Teen Girls and Black Sheep Ballerinas," 22 May 2018 But the dinner scene also jabs at a culture so unforgiving that mothers are exhorted to reclaim their prenatal figure, or to return to work, with preternatural haste. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Charlize Theron Explores Motherhood’s Discontents in “Tully”," 4 May 2018 Unlike my children, my books are cruelly unforgiving of my weaknesses, failings and flaws of character. Heidi Stevens, chicagotribune.com, "For Father's Day, reflecting on a dad who improves all that he touches," 15 June 2018 Western Grand Canyon is an unforgiving, feral landscape. Annette Mcgivney, Outside Online, "300 Flights Through the Grand Canyon's Helicopter Alley," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unforgiving.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of unforgiving

1713, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about unforgiving

Share unforgiving

Statistics for unforgiving

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unforgiving

The first known use of unforgiving was in 1713

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for unforgiving



English Language Learners Definition of unforgiving

: not willing to forgive other people

: very harsh or difficult : not allowing weakness, error, etc.

Comments on unforgiving

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


an inexhaustible supply or amount

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!