un·​pro·​duc·​tive | \ˌən-prə-ˈdək-tiv, -prō-\

Definition of unproductive 

: not effective in bringing something about : not yielding results, benefits, or profits : not productive unproductive meetings unproductive strategies unproductive workers

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Examples of unproductive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Sheep are unproductive and their milk, ideal for cheese making, is a bit fatty for drinking. Mark Kurlansky, Time, "Why We've Been Fighting About Milk for 10,000 Years," 7 May 2018 Look, everybody is trying to do a good job, but people sometimes fall into patterns that are unproductive and not of much use to readers. Mick Lasalle, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bill Maher says reviews like ‘I Feel Pretty’ aren’t reviews. Do you agree?," 30 May 2018 Roskam, however, dismissed the traditional in-person format as unproductive and boasted of his ability to reach far more people via convenient telephone town halls, which are arranged by his campaign. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Congressional town halls: Old-fashioned and inefficient or vital to the fabric of democracy?," 28 Apr. 2018 Those efforts, as well as Mr. Trudeau’s earlier attempts to win over Mr. Trump and his advisers, proved unproductive. Ian Austen, New York Times, "Trade War and Canadian Pride Mix in Retaliatory Tariffs Against U.S.," 30 June 2018 Oil wealth has hidden a woefully unproductive economy, and fuelled Islamic ultra-puritanism around the world. The Economist, "How to ensure Muhammad bin Salman’s reforms succeed," 23 June 2018 But the Senate isn’t ready to take up the issue after a thoroughly unproductive immigration debate in February, followed by months of radio silence. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Roseanne Barr and the new political correctness," 29 May 2018 Despite these tangible benefits, one of the largest obstacles preventing biophilic design in the workspace is the perception – or misperception – that working in nature is unproductive. Ben Tobin, USA TODAY, "Desk, swivel chair, trees: Why companies are moving the office outdoors," 28 June 2018 Since Friday afternoons are typically the most unproductive part of the week, giving this time off doesn't necessarily cost companies that much. CBS News, "Taking Fridays off: Why it's good for business," 24 June 2018

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

circa 1676, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

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The first known use of unproductive was circa 1676

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


by force of circumstances

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