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

Reaction to us as cheapskates: The staff was smooth and maintained an old-fashioned professional distance that made their personal opinion unreadable and irrelevant. Fox, Town & Country, "A Table for Mr. Fox," 21 Nov. 2012 Regardless, the Ultra-Ever Dry would make the screen unreadable. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 July 2018 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

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

12 Nov 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

Comments on unreadable

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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