adjective un·prec·e·dent·ed \ ˌən-ˈpre-sə-ˌden-təd \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of unprecedented

: having no precedent : novel, unexampled



Examples of unprecedented in a Sentence

  1. … on one occasion, a president (Eisenhower) refers to himself as "conservative." Four years later, the Republican presidential nominee (Goldwater) announces that he is "a conservative." Another sixteen years later, Ronald Reagan, a self-declared conservative, is elected president by an overwhelming majority. By that time—1980—more Americans identify themselves as conservatives than as liberals. This was, and remains, a tectonic transformation, unprecedented in American history. —John LukacsHarper'sMarch 2008
  2. Faced with an unprecedented crisis that combines cyclical turbulence with metastasizing digital technology that steals away revenue and readers at an alarming and seemingly accelerating rate (while offering newspapers only stingy payoffs), publishers and editors everywhere have thrown away their rule books—and, to find their way in this new and alien environment, are ready to implement previously unthinkable changes. —Mark Fitzgerald et al.Editor & PublisherAugust 2008
  3. Many of the forces that initially sent the economy into a tailspin in 1929 and 1930 have been at work in the 2000s as well: a stock-market boom turned bust, a real estate boom turned bust, unprecedented levels of consumer debt. —Justin FoxTime10 Mar. 2008
  4. Shakespeare served as exemplar of the writer who achieved success, and an unprecedented degree of financial reward, from his pen alone. —Jonathan BateHarper'sApril 2007
  5. Fan fiction … was once mainly a fringe pursuit. Now, it's changing the world of fiction, as Internet exposure helps unknown authors find mainstream success. Some Web sites are attracting unprecedented numbers of readers and, in some cases, leading to book deals. —John JurgensenWall Street Journal16–17 Sept. 2006
  6. Shocking as it is, more than a month after the hurricane hit, New Orleans is still, for all practical purposes, a ghost town. The entire population has left—an unprecedented situation in modern times in any major city anywhere. —Tom PiazzaWhy New Orleans Matters2005
  7. The team has enjoyed unprecedented success this year.

  8. This level of growth is unprecedented.

  9. An unprecedented number of students are taking the class.

Recent Examples of unprecedented from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unprecedented.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of unprecedented


in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

UNPRECEDENTED Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of unprecedented for English Language Learners

  • : not done or experienced before

UNPRECEDENTED Defined for Kids


adjective un·prec·e·dent·ed \ ˌən-ˈpre-sə-ˌden-təd \

Definition of unprecedented for Students

: not done or experienced before
  • The event was unprecedented.

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


very hard to disturb or upset

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!