un·​kempt | \ˌən-ˈkem(p)t \

Definition of unkempt 

1 : not combed unkempt hair

2 : deficient in order or neatness unkempt individuals unkempt hotel rooms also : rough, unpolished unkempt prose

Keep scrolling for more

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

And in May, a black firefighter was on the job inspecting the Oakland hills for the wild and unkempt vegetation that feeds ravenous fires when he was reported to police. SFChronicle.com, "We should think deeply about the Alison Ettel viral video — and why it matters," 28 June 2018 Seated on a stage in the chapel were a number of veterans, among them a wiry man with an unkempt brown beard who sat with his eyes closed and his hands folded in his lap. New York Times, "The Wounds of the Drone Warrior," 13 June 2018 Davidson isn’t the perfect avatar of this unkempt, skate-forward moment in streetwear. Kenzie Bryant, Vanities, "Pete Davidson and the Rise of the Scumbro," 29 June 2018 The team focuses on unkempt lots, residential improprieties and ordinance violations. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Bond set at $1M for man accused of hiring hitman to kill HPD officer," 28 June 2018 Costume designer Holly Poe Durban outfits Falstaff with a convincing fat suit and an unkempt silvery mane befitting a vagrant, while clothing the rest of the cast in period-appropriate early-15th-century togs. Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Henry IV': Theater Review," 9 June 2018 According to Spencer, many of the plots — raised beds in wooden frames — look unkempt in the winter. Andrew Simmons, San Francisco Chronicle, "Rodney Spencer and the struggles and rewards of a West Oakland urban farm," 27 Apr. 2018 His life bridged two worlds: the city’s modern commercialized culture and the folklore of baseball’s bucolic origins, a romantic ideal where country boys like Mickey played the game in unkempt fields. Edward Kosner, WSJ, "‘A Season in the Sun’ Review: Those Weren’t the Days," 12 Apr. 2018 One resident, a man with unkempt hair and wild eyes, left the encampment and sat on a bench at the Van Nuys station, clutching his stomach. Laura J. Nelson, latimes.com, "As waves of homeless descend onto trains, L.A. tries a new strategy: social workers on the subway," 6 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about unkempt

Dictionary Entries near unkempt








Statistics for unkempt

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unkempt

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for unkempt



English Language Learners Definition of unkempt

: not neat or orderly : messy or untidy


un·​kempt | \ˌən-ˈkempt \

Kids Definition of unkempt

1 : not combed unkempt hair

2 : not neat and orderly : untidy an unkempt room

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on unkempt

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


to express warning or disapproval

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!