un·​healthy | \ ˌən-ˈhel-thē How to pronounce unhealthy (audio) \
unhealthier; unhealthiest

Definition of unhealthy

1 : not conducive to health : not healthful an unhealthy climate unhealthy habits unhealthy foods
2 : not in good health : sickly, diseased unhealthy animals
3a : risky, unsound an unhealthy economy
b : of a harmful nature : bad, injurious unhealthy levels of lead
c : morally contaminated : corrupt, unwholesome an unhealthy imagination

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Other Words from unhealthy

unhealthily \ ˌən-​ˈhel-​thə-​lē How to pronounce unhealthily (audio) \ adverb
unhealthiness \ ˌən-​ˈhel-​thē-​nəs How to pronounce unhealthiness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for unhealthy


insalubrious, noisome, noxious, sickly, unhealthful, unwholesome


healthful, healthy

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Examples of unhealthy in a Sentence

Her skin looks blotchy and unhealthy. Tests revealed an unhealthy level of lead in the water. Eating honey can be unhealthy for babies. He was stuck in an unhealthy relationship. She has an unhealthy interest in natural disasters.
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Recent Examples on the Web

More than 45 percent of children in the Lawrence school district were overweight or obese, according to a 2010 report by the state Department of Public Health, likely from unhealthy or unbalanced diets. Marek Mazurek, BostonGlobe.com, "In Lawrence, bodegas now carry healthier options," 9 July 2018 First, recognize that the healthcare costs of being unhealthy can quickly usurp what you’d spend at the gym. NBC News, "Being healthy is never a bad thing ... until it makes you financially sick," 6 June 2018 On a global basis, Professor Holloway notes, 1 in 8 deaths each year are caused by air pollution; in the US, nearly half of the population live in places considered unhealthy based on EPA standards. Amanda Paulson, The Christian Science Monitor, "US counties get mixed grades in ‘State of the Air’ pollution report," 18 Apr. 2018 Choosing something that’s too severe can trigger all sorts of unhealthy habits or extreme behaviors. SELF, "It Took Me Years to Separate Working Out from Trying to Lose Weight. Here's How I Did It," 25 Mar. 2019 An unhealthy level of ground-level ozone is expected. Robert A. Cronkleton, kansascity, "Dangerous heat settles upon Kansas City metro. Just how hot will it get?," 27 June 2018 Then there are living donors, the only people who go through surgery without being unhealthy, suffering the risks and some harm without any physical benefit. Joshua Mezrich, WSJ, "Losing the Humanity of Transplants," 18 Jan. 2019 Some influencers also get paid to promote dangerous weight loss products that promote unhealthy behaviors and unrealistic body standards. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Instagram Plans to Strengthen Ban on Pro-Eating Disorder Content," 12 Dec. 2018 The Greenland Ice Sheet’s unhealthy and rapid weight loss—and contribution to sea-level rise—occurs by a handful of mechanisms. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Greenland’s melting snow makes new hockey stick (graph)," 9 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unhealthy.' 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 unhealthy

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for unhealthy

Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unhealthy

The first known use of unhealthy was in 1595

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More Definitions for unhealthy



English Language Learners Definition of unhealthy

: not having or showing good health
: harmful to your health : likely to make you sick
: not doing well : not successful


un·​healthy | \ ˌən-ˈhel-thē How to pronounce unhealthy (audio) \
unhealthier; unhealthiest

Kids Definition of unhealthy

1 : not good for someone's health : promoting a state of poor health Smoking is an unhealthy habit.
2 : not in good health : sickly
3 : harmful, bad an unhealthy situation

Other Words from unhealthy

unhealthily \ -​thə-​lē \ adverb They eat unhealthily.


un·​healthy | \ -ˈhel-thē How to pronounce unhealthy (audio) \
unhealthier; unhealthiest

Medical Definition of unhealthy

1 : not conducive to health an unhealthy climate
2 : not in good health : sickly

Other Words from unhealthy

unhealthiness noun

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Comments on unhealthy

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


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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