un·​sa·​vory ˌən-ˈsā-və-rē How to pronounce unsavory (audio)
: unpleasant to taste or smell
: disagreeable, distasteful
an unsavory assignment
especially : morally offensive
unsavory business practices

Examples of unsavory in a Sentence

He is an unsavory character. an unsavory blend of spices that simply overwhelmed the fish's delicate flavor
Recent Examples on the Web The statement will be unsavory for frugal streamers who have recently endured price hikes from Netflix and other streaming services. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 24 Jan. 2024 In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the HGTV star opens up about what didn't make the final edit of his new memoir-meets-self-help-guide, including a lot more unsavory face-offs while growing up in a tough neighborhood in Southern California. Mackenzie Schmidt, Peoplemag, 4 Feb. 2024 If that is too unsavory, Biden can look to Ronald Reagan’s record. The Editors, National Review, 29 Jan. 2024 With Marks, Hamm has been cast as a man of another moment, though there’s a similar tension at play between the actor’s undeniable visual appeal and the more unsavory qualities obscured by it. Alison Herman, Variety, 12 Dec. 2023 Without getting into too much detail, some very unsavory things have been said and done. Roxane Gay, New York Times, 22 Dec. 2023 The tumultuous developments this year left Russia in a lurch and scrambling at times for allies, munitions and soldiers to keep the war effort going; meanwhile, Ukraine failed to make the gains that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had promised, forcing a switch to more unsavory tactics. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 20 Dec. 2023 Schulman doesn’t shy away from the unsavory (such as the fact that, before the Civil War, the Lehmans owned slaves), rendering his subjects with satisfying complexity. The New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2023 The new House speaker Mike Johnson has touted some extremely controversial opinions as a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus—but few as unsavory as his apparent hatred for a woman’s right to choose, sizing a woman’s worth up to her ability to create more workers for American businesses. Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, The New Republic, 25 Oct. 2023 See More

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unsavory was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near unsavory

Cite this Entry

“Unsavory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unsavory. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​sa·​vory ˌən-ˈsāv(-ə)-rē How to pronounce unsavory (audio)
: having little or no taste
: having a bad taste or smell
: morally bad

More from Merriam-Webster on unsavory

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