un·read·able | \ ˌən-ˈrē-də-bəl \

Definition of unreadable 

: not readable: such as

a : not decipherable : illegible unreadable handwriting

b : impossible to read and understand : incomprehensible … a flawed, unreadable, misleading bill that garnered support based on propaganda and clever—but false—talking points. —Marilyn M. Singleton

c : impossible to interpret The expression on her face was unreadable.

d : not enjoyable or interesting enough to engage the reader an unreadable novel

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Synonyms & Antonyms for unreadable


illegible, indecipherable, undecipherable


clean, decipherable, fair, legible, readable

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Examples of unreadable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The cascade of flickering, sometimes unreadable images is so unremitting, despite long stretches of an utterly blank screen, as to be nearly ungraspable. New York Times, "In ‘The Color of Pomegranates,’ the Cinema of the Cryptic," 24 May 2018 The final expression on her hooded face is diabolical and unreadable. Rena Gross, Billboard, "'The Handmaid's Tale': Season 2, Episode 13 Recap: 19 Startling Moments in 'The Word'," 11 July 2018 Encrypting the entire drive to make its contents unreadable without a key--then erasing it and encrypting it again--takes much less time to make your data disappear. Rob Pegoraro, USA TODAY, "Ready to ditch your old flash drive? Don't just erase and recycle," 5 July 2018 With this standard, the researchers could include thousands of bits of information, up to and including borderline unreadable freehand notes from doctors. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "New Google AI Calculates the Odds You'll Survive a Hospital Stay," 19 June 2018 Along the way, the message is unreadable, protected from prying eyes. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Encrypted Messaging Isn’t Magic," 14 June 2018 The spelling was haphazard and the prose almost unreadable, with no paragraph breaks. Laurie Hertzel, Detroit Free Press, "Books: Inside the mind of an endearing schizophrenic," 24 Feb. 2018 With encryption, your data will be converted into unreadable code that can only be deciphered with a specific key or password. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "10 insider tricks to keep hackers and scammers from stealing from you," 22 June 2018 The trouble with the photocopy sent to Dodek is that the front of the envelope is pretty clear, but the back of the envelope, if that is what is represented in the photocopy, is totally unreadable, and the lower one-third of it is not shown at all. Sean P. Murphy, BostonGlobe.com, "For lack of a legible postmark, retirement fund takes a hit," 5 June 2018

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

circa 1655, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

20 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for unreadable

The first known use of unreadable was circa 1655

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More from Merriam-Webster on unreadable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unreadable

Spanish Central: Translation of unreadable

Nglish: Translation of unreadable for Spanish Speakers

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