un·​prom·​is·​ing ˌən-ˈprä-mə-siŋ How to pronounce unpromising (audio)
: appearing unlikely to prove worthwhile or result favorably
an unpromising beginning
unpromisingly adverb

Examples of unpromising in a Sentence

Things got off to an unpromising start. She can do a lot with unpromising material.
Recent Examples on the Web This doesn’t mean that all medical projects aimed at treating disease and disability are unpromising. WIRED, 26 Sep. 2023 In her semifinals, a slow reaction time had Richardson off to a unpromising start. Talya Minsberg, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2023 Even the most initially unpromising or urban spaces can potentially, with the right approach and design, become valuable and productive garden spaces. Elizabeth Waddington, Treehugger, 21 July 2023 Fortunately, that unpromising terrain proves just a fleeting awkward phrase, as the pair evolve in psychological as well as physiological ways. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 6 July 2023 Ticks are resilient animals, so attempting to destroy a tick nest using force will usually yield unpromising results. USA TODAY, 24 June 2023 Doré and Maldacena, who has also argued that the direct approach seems unpromising, both point to a new preprint study by cosmologists Daniel Green of the University of California, San Diego, and Rafael Porto of the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY). Brendan Z. Foster, Scientific American, 17 June 2020 Aguirre and Johnson have looked closely at these kinds of tunneling events and come back pessimistic; others have looked at similar processes from the perspective of the AdS/CFT correspondence with similarly unpromising results. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 2 Mar. 2012 In this unpromising milieu, the young Picasso, with his broken French and outcast friends, struggled to avoid arrest or even expulsion. Hugh Eakin, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

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

1640, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of unpromising was in 1640

Dictionary Entries Near unpromising

Cite this Entry

“Unpromising.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unpromising. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​prom·​is·​ing ˌən-ˈpräm-ə-siŋ How to pronounce unpromising (audio)
: appearing unlikely to prove worthwhile or successful
unpromisingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on unpromising

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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