un·​kempt | \ ˌən-ˈkem(p)t How to pronounce unkempt (audio) \

Definition of unkempt

1 : not combed unkempt hair
2 : deficient in order or neatness unkempt individuals unkempt hotel rooms also : rough, unpolished unkempt prose

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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 Leung Kwok-hung, an activist better known as Long Hair for his unkempt mane, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, the heaviest punishment. BostonGlobe.com, "Hong Kong court sentences Jimmy Lai and other pro-democracy leaders to Prison," 16 Apr. 2021 The proportions and detail of the exterior — the brickwork for example — make many of the other buildings on the street seem vaguely unkempt or worse. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Dia Chelsea, Keeper of the Avant-Garde Flame," 15 Apr. 2021 Leto's Paolo Gucci, meanwhile, is shown with unkempt hair, and a lilac corduroy suit not at all in line with his daughter's recollections. Colleen Barry, Star Tribune, "Gucci heirs worry over family depiction in Ridley Scott film," 15 Apr. 2021 Luciano is a sixth-generation pizzaiolo with shambling charm and a studiously unkempt style. Francesco Lastrucci, Smithsonian Magazine, "Inside Naples’ World-Famous Pizza Culture," 20 Feb. 2021 If stress, suffering and grief grew like noxious weeds, Jennie Taylor said her unkempt little farm in North Ogden could be a picture of 2020. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Two years after North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor’s death in Afghanistan, donors resurrect his mini-farm," 11 Dec. 2020 Holding onto hangers of different sizes, shapes, and colors will keep your closet looking and feeling unkempt. Alyssa Fiorentino, House Beautiful, "What To Get Rid Of Before The New Year Starts," 28 Dec. 2020 Those policies can view cultural styles worn by Black and Brown people -- such as dreadlocks, box braids, long Afros or kinky twists -- as too big, ungroomed, unkempt, too ethnic or unprofessional. Jessica Williams, NOLA.com, "Hairstyle discrimination now banned in New Orleans workplaces; here's why, what that means," 17 Dec. 2020 Her unkempt blonde pageboy haircut is topped with an unlikely blue ribbon as big as her head. Michelle Matthews | Mmatthews@al.com, al, "Young Idgie from ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ is all grown up," 9 Dec. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for unkempt

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

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Time Traveler for unkempt

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for unkempt

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unkempt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unkempt. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for unkempt



English Language Learners Definition of unkempt

: not neat or orderly : messy or untidy


un·​kempt | \ ˌən-ˈkempt How to pronounce unkempt (audio) \

Kids Definition of unkempt

1 : not combed unkempt hair
2 : not neat and orderly : untidy an unkempt room

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