un·​healthy | \ ˌən-ˈhel-thē \
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 \ adverb
unhealthiness \ ˌən-​ˈhel-​thē-​nəs \ 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

Frankly, the amount of time the Dealmaster has already spent staring at his laptop screen this week is unhealthy. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Dealmaster: A whole bunch of early Black Friday deals have gone live," 19 Nov. 2018 The number of days when the air quality index was unhealthy was 729 in 2017. Hope Yen, The Seattle Times, "Fact-checking President Trump on migrants, Saudis, Hispanic vote," 22 Oct. 2018 When the labor market is unhealthy, people tend to feel differently about politics and policy. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The Great Recession was awful. And we don’t have a plan to stop the next one.," 16 Oct. 2018 Critics argued that the company's policy of using influencers as advertisers was creating unrealistic standards and encouraging unhealthy dietary habits—the kinds that can lead to eating disorders and anxiety. Allie Conti, Marie Claire, "How Are Appetite Suppressing Lollipops Still a Thing?," 5 Oct. 2018 However, as a recent The New York Times report has brought to light, the convenient squeeze pouches found in everyone's diaper bags might also teach children unhealthy food habits when they're used as a crutch instead of a treat. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "You're Probably Feeding Your Kids Too Many Food Pouches, Say Pediatricians," 3 July 2018 Yet, for all his fussing and fuming about steak — and his unhealthy habit of eating way too much of it way too often — my father did teach me a valuable lesson about being able to enjoy a variety of meat cuts. Bill Daley, chicagotribune.com, "In praise of filet mignon: Maligned by chefs yet still beloved," 14 June 2018 But when that system slows down, which happens with age as well as inactivity, skin looks puffy and unhealthy, and things like eye bags and dark circles become that much worse. Kristin Perrotta, Harper's BAZAAR, "5 Skin-Improving Tricks to Include in Your Beauty Routine," 1 Oct. 2018 At first, Swiped comes in with the fairly easy-to-argue standpoint that, yes, dating apps lead to a hookup culture in which women are objectified, which is both stressful, unhealthy, and kind of humiliating. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "HBO's 'Swiped' Argues That Silicon Valley Must Fix the Dating Mess It Created," 10 Sep. 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

6 Jan 2019

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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 \
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 \
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

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a person who helps groups work together

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