un·​manned ˌən-ˈmand How to pronounce unmanned (audio)
see usage paragraph below : not carrying, staffed, or performed by people : not manned
an unmanned railroad crossing
unmanned spaceflight
of a hawk : not trained
Usage of Manned and Unmanned

While manned and unmanned are still commonly used in news sources to describe spaceflights, NASA has since the early 21st century used and prescribed non-gender-specific terms, preferring such descriptors as human, piloted, and crewed for the former, and unpiloted and uncrewed for the latter.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Russia initially denied that its warplanes were to blame, saying in a statement on Tuesday that after the Russian Air Force scrambled fighter jets to identify the drone, the unmanned U.S. aircraft maneuvered sharply, lost altitude and hit the water. Lara Jakes Lara Jakes Michael Crowley Nick Cumming-bruce Helene Cooper Matthew Mpoke Bigg Lara Jakes Anushka Patil Lara Jakes Lara Jakes Andrew Higgins Andrew Higgins Marc Santora Andrew Higgins Valerie Hopkins Nick Cumming-bruce Nick Cumming-bruce Valerie Hopkins Valerie Hopkins Marc Santora Eric Schmitt Anushka Patil Carly Olson Valerie Hopkins Eric Schmitt Eric Schmitt Matthew Mpoke Bigg, New York Times, 16 Mar. 2023 Founded by Cambridge graduate Tobias Kahnert, 29, Electric Flytrain develops electric and hybrid-electric batteries, power electronics and motors for the aviation industry, and also has its own hybrid-powertrain product for unmanned aircrafts. Igor Bosilkovski, Forbes, 6 Mar. 2023 In the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, unmanned aircraft featured more prominently than fighter jets, and that has been the case in this war as well. Liam Collins, The Conversation, 24 Feb. 2023 The takedown of four unmanned aircraft has raised new concerns about relations between the United States and China, with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers putting a new focus Sunday on national security. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, 12 Feb. 2023 According to the Mykolayiv regional governor, Vitaliy Kim, no casualties and no strikes have been reported, and several of the unmanned aircraft were shot down. Bloomberg.com, 9 Feb. 2023 The unmanned surveillance aircraft had flown from Alaska through Canada before entering the continental United States and traveling from Idaho to the East Coast over the last seven days. Thomas Catenacci, Fox News, 5 Feb. 2023 The unmanned aircrafts have been so popular that FirstEnergy has launched an ad campaign about flying them safely — and far away from electrical equipment, reports Sean McDonnell. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 14 Dec. 2022 National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday the objects were unmanned and appeared to be guided by the wind. Nicholas Reimann, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unmanned.' 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

1544, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unmanned was in 1544

Dictionary Entries Near unmanned

Cite this Entry

“Unmanned.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unmanned. Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​manned ˌən-ˈmand How to pronounce unmanned (audio)
: having no crew aboard
an unmanned spacecraft

More from Merriam-Webster on unmanned

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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