for senses 1 & 2
ˌən-ˈlər-nəd How to pronounce unlearned (audio)
for sense 3
-ˈlərnd How to pronounce unlearned (audio)
: possessing inadequate learning or education
especially : deficient in scholarly attainments
: characterized by or revealing ignorance
: not gained by study or training
Choose the Right Synonym for unlearned

ignorant, illiterate, unlettered, untutored, unlearned mean not having knowledge.

ignorant may imply a general condition or it may apply to lack of knowledge or awareness of a particular thing.

an ignorant fool
ignorant of nuclear physics

illiterate applies to either an absolute or a relative inability to read and write.

much of the population is still illiterate

unlettered implies ignorance of the knowledge gained by reading.

an allusion meaningless to the unlettered

untutored may imply lack of schooling in the arts and ways of civilization.

strange monuments built by an untutored people

unlearned suggests ignorance of advanced subjects.

poetry not for academics but for the unlearned masses

Examples of unlearned in a Sentence

although the people of the farming community were largely an unlearned lot, they wanted an advanced education for their children
Recent Examples on the Web Observers are left similarly unlearned about how the case might be decided. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 23 Mar. 2023 Still, there are lessons that remain unlearned. W. James Antle Iii, The Week, 24 Feb. 2022 The racial disparities have left public health experts and activists frustrated that lessons from the Covid-19 response remain unlearned. Liam Stack, New York Times, 18 Aug. 2022 Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Cannes, Loznitsa explained why the unlearned lessons of the past always come back to haunt us. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 May 2022 And, today, the Biden Administration is learning that lessons from the 2014 Red Hill fuel leak went unlearned. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 7 Dec. 2021 The hegemony that the Mexican identity has over how a Latino should look and be in Phoenix — and in the U.S. — forces this kind of unlearned environment for Salvadorans and other Latinos. AZCentral.com, 12 Nov. 2021 George Floyd, a blank piece of paper, unlearned characters in the Bible. Dallas News, 4 May 2021 And yet, the lessons inherent in those works remain unlearned. Michael Bennett, Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2020 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near unlearned

Cite this Entry

“Unlearned.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlearned. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​learned ˌən-ˈlər-nəd How to pronounce unlearned (audio)
for sense 1,
ˌən-ˈlərnd How to pronounce unlearned (audio)
 for senses 2 & 3 
: not learned : uneducated, illiterate
a good but unlearned man
: not learned by study : not known
lessons unlearned by many
: not learned by previous experience
breathing is unlearned behavior
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