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

Ironically, Mexico’s special vulnerability to our erratic president, and its unhealthy dependence on the U.S. economy are results of the reforms that the U.S. helped foist upon the country in the 1980s and 90s, including NAFTA. Mark Weisbrot, The New Republic, "Tariffs Are a Bad Response to an Imaginary Border Crisis," 5 June 2019 Trapping moisture behind walls, below flooring or above ceilings will eventually lead to a serious and unhealthy mold problem. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Finish Your Basement," 18 Apr. 2019 Not getting enough sleep can lead to unhealthy eating, depression, other health problems, and can result in drowsy driving, which is what Adam was talking about. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Why Schools Should Start Later and Teens Should Sleep More," 4 Jan. 2019 Last year had the most unhealthy soot days since 2011. Hope Yen, The Seattle Times, "Fact-checking President Trump on migrants, Saudis, Hispanic vote," 22 Oct. 2018 The department issues air quality alerts when ground level ozone is expected to reach 100 on the air quality index, a measurement classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sara Sneath, NOLA.com, "New Orleans seeing an increase in air quality alerts: Here's why," 11 May 2018 Monday afternoon, the air quality reached a level considered unhealthy for everyone, with sensitive groups like children and pregnant women at greater risk. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "Until Seattle smoke subsides, play fetch with Fido inside, veterinarians say," 20 Aug. 2018 Some people worry that even a modest loss of blood is unhealthy, and no one has forgotten a grim scandal that began in the 1980s, when middlemen paying for blood infected hundreds of thousands with HIV. The Economist, "Clot-hoppersChina bungles changes to its blood-donation system," 22 Mar. 2018 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

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

9 Jun 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 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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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