unkempt

adjective

un·​kempt ˌən-ˈkem(p)t How to pronounce unkempt (audio)
1
: not combed
unkempt hair
2
: deficient in order or neatness
unkempt individuals
unkempt hotel rooms
also : rough, unpolished
unkempt prose

Examples of unkempt in a Sentence

She wore rumpled clothing and her hair was unkempt. an unkempt and cluttered room
Recent Examples on the Web Weeds can take over in a hurry, choking out lawns and gardens and making landscapes look unkempt. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 12 July 2023 Some lawns are manicured while others are unkempt. Dallas News, 20 Dec. 2022 Wallace’s bob was poker-straight, whereas Emily’s unkempt, messy waves boast plenty of texture. Alice Cary, Vogue, 3 Feb. 2023 Armed patrols man the streets, where unkempt survivors take jobs burning the dead and cleaning up waste to scrape by. Randall Colburn, EW.com, 16 Jan. 2023 Oh, there's the unkempt west side near Red Bank Avenue, known as the Thickets, where those seeking or selling drugs can sometimes be found after dark, and where there's the occasional mugging, but the Thickets is only three acres of 740. Clark Collis, EW.com, 23 Jan. 2023 His unkempt bedroom is nearly a deal-breaker, as are his clumsy attempts at foreplay. Peter Debruge, Variety, 21 Jan. 2023 Shiny, dark green fronds grow into an unkempt mound reminiscent of Medusa's hair. Savanna Bous, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 Jan. 2023 And not just any T-shirt and cargo shorts, but what could seem like the baggiest, most stretched out, most slept in, most consciously unflattering T-shirts and shorts; the most unkempt bed-head. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 13 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unkempt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English unkemd, unkempt, from un- + kembed, kempt, past participle of kemben to comb, from Old English cemban; akin to Old High German chempen to comb, Old English camb comb — more at comb

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unkempt was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near unkempt

Cite this Entry

“Unkempt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unkempt. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

unkempt

adjective
un·​kempt ˌən-ˈkem(p)t How to pronounce unkempt (audio)
1
: not combed
2
: lacking in order or neatness : untidy

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