un·​let·​tered | \ ˌən-ˈle-tərd How to pronounce unlettered (audio) \

Definition of unlettered

1a : lacking facility in reading and writing and ignorant of the knowledge to be gained from books
2 : not marked with letters

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Choose the Right Synonym for unlettered

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 unlettered in a Sentence

unlettered moviegoers could scarcely imagine how little resemblance the film bore to the novel on which it was supposedly based
Recent Examples on the Web The British Admiralty sent ships in search of pathways through the ice that would lead to this mythic sea, an objective scoffed at by unlettered whalers who spent their lives in waters along the edge of the sea ice and knew better. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "In ‘North Pole: Nature and Culture,’ grappling with a place beyond time and measure," 3 Aug. 2019 Her husband constantly referred to her dismissively as a simple, unlettered woman. Ferdinand Mount, WSJ, "‘Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World’ Review: The Prophet as Politician," 1 Nov. 2018 The consequences of Kanye West’s unlettered view of America and its history are, if anything, more direct. Ta-nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, "I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye," 7 May 2018 In the tradition of both black and white southern folk preaching, ministers usually spoke extemporaneously to unlettered congregants, who expected the Spirit of God to impart messages of encouragement and hope. The Economist, "The making of Martin Luther King’s speeches," 28 Mar. 2018 His description of Stephen Miller, a White House policy adviser, as an unlettered lightweight is inaccurate and mean. The Economist, "Wolff in the White House“Fire and Fury” confirms the dysfunction at the heart of the presidency," 11 Jan. 2018 In celebrating the unlettered Huncke, Ginsberg was suggesting that professionals may have more to learn from amateurs than the other way around. Ann Douglas, New York Times, "Professor Ginsberg’s Notes on the Beats," 1 Aug. 2017 They've long been dismissed as stupid or unlettered or unsophisticated. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Will flaying Trump bring us to normalcy?," 30 May 2017 Despite his unlettered status, Joe sees more clearly than anyone else that there are great dangers in Pip taking money from a mysterious benefactor and going off to the city. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "Review: Pip's travels are long but worth the trip in 'Great Expectations'," 26 May 2017

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

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Cite this Entry

“Unlettered.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlettered. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce unlettered (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of unlettered

formal + literary : unable to read or write

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