un·​ho·​ly | \ˌən-ˈhō-lē \

Definition of unholy 

1 : showing disregard for what is holy : wicked

2 : deserving of censure an unholy alliance

3 : very unpleasant : god-awful an unholy mess

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Other Words from unholy

unholiness noun

Examples of unholy in a Sentence

Our finances were an unholy mess. They have spent an unholy amount of money on the project.

Recent Examples on the Web

Four years of mechanized slaughter left the righteous crusade looking like an unholy debacle. Joseph Loconte, WSJ, "What World War I Taught the Clergy," 8 Nov. 2018 Richie’s family has been openly discouraging of this unholy union. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Sofia Richie, 19, and Scott Disick, 35, Are ‘Back to Normal’," 19 June 2018 Is that hamburger a sacred rite or an unholy sacrifice? Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "This Natalie Portman–Backed Documentary Will Make You Seriously Consider Going Vegetarian," 16 June 2018 That means refraining from unholy acts of aggression: throwing it against the wall, adding oil to the boiling water, spinning the pasta against your spoon, or for God's sake cutting the noodles with a knife and a fork. Matt Goulding, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Eat Like an Italian," 13 June 2018 Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Ha Kohen Kook, the first chief Rabbi of Israel, argued that there is no such thing as the unholy; there is only the holy and the not yet holy. Rabbi Avi Weiss, Jewish Journal, "The making of a successful rabbi," 11 June 2018 If Tunie’s Julia is a confusing, almost parodical ringleader of the feminist #Resistance, then Joy Nash’s Plum is a sympathetic avatar of the countless women presumably brainwashed by the unholy union of women’s magazines and beauty corporations. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Dietland Envisions a World of Female Revenge," 5 June 2018 Played bridge until lights out with the unholy three & was high. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Service Diary of a Corpsman: Roy L. Wall, LST 509," 28 May 2018 Like Toller’s diary, his film is an assertion of order in the face of chaos, an effort to organize something that is by its very nature an unholy mess: one person’s life. Paul Schrader, New York Times, "Review: ‘First Reformed’ Is an Epiphany. Ethan Hawke Is, Too.," 17 May 2018

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for unholy

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unholy

The first known use of unholy was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for unholy



English Language Learners Definition of unholy

: not showing respect for a god or a religion : not holy

—used to describe people or groups that are working together for a bad purpose

: shockingly or surprisingly bad, large, etc.


un·​ho·​ly | \ˌən-ˈhō-lē \
unholier; unholiest

Kids Definition of unholy

1 : not holy : wicked

2 : ungodly sense 2 Stop that unholy racket!

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More from Merriam-Webster on unholy

See words that rhyme with unholy

Spanish Central: Translation of unholy

Nglish: Translation of unholy for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unholy

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


noxious or harmful

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