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un·​seem·​ly ˌən-ˈsēm-lē How to pronounce unseemly (audio)
: not seemly: such as
: not according with established standards of good form or taste
unseemly bickering
: not suitable for time or place : inappropriate, unseasonable
unseemliness noun


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: in an unseemly manner
Choose the Right Synonym for unseemly

indecorous, improper, unseemly, unbecoming, indelicate mean not conforming to what is accepted as right, fitting, or in good taste.

indecorous suggests a violation of accepted standards of good manners.

indecorous behavior

improper applies to a broader range of transgressions of rules not only of social behavior but of ethical practice or logical procedure or prescribed method.

improper use of campaign contributions

unseemly adds a suggestion of special inappropriateness to a situation or an offensiveness to good taste.

remarried with unseemly haste

unbecoming suggests behavior or language that does not suit one's character or status.

conduct unbecoming to an officer

indelicate implies a lack of modesty or of tact or of refined perception of feeling.

indelicate expressions for bodily functions

Examples of unseemly in a Sentence

Adjective He spent unseemly amounts of money on himself. an unseemly interest in their host's income and expenses
Recent Examples on the Web
After that, states and the leagues embraced gambling with unseemly haste. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2024 But more often than not, courts have allowed the tactic, even as many have described it as unseemly or worse. Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, 26 Feb. 2024 The 49ers’ complaint, as first published by CBS Sports Monday, is that the new grass turf, laid over the typical artificial surface at the Fertitta Football Complex, is unseemly — as in you can see the seams in the grass. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, 6 Feb. 2024 My Sorrows Church, the service was carried out with what supporters said was unseemly haste. Catherine Belton, Washington Post, 1 Mar. 2024 Today, unseemly bargains can sometimes lead to better outcomes. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The latest unseemly result: a 15-point home loss to Cal in which ASU trailed by double digits for much of the game. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, 5 Feb. 2024 And resuming funding would further entrench the unseemly incentives that have insulated the U.N. from accountability for the agency’s rank antisemitism and incitement of terrorism. The Editors, National Review, 31 Jan. 2024 An unseemly crowd of would-be Veeps has been campaigning in Trump’s wake, generating a phantasmagoria of MAGA abasement—rich in ambition, short on shame. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 28 Jan. 2024
But what if there’s just a spot of mold, or there’s a corner that’s looking a little unseemly? Brittany Leitner, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Dec. 2023 These packets are trash at their inception, so there is something extra unseemly wasteful about completing their trip to the dump without even squeezing them. John Hodgman, New York Times, 30 Nov. 2023 It’s often considered taboo — or perhaps just unseemly — to talk about money. The Motley Fool, Dallas News, 25 June 2023 Video from the scene, which some fellow competitors and other witnesses found unseemly, was widely viewed online. Brett Martel, ajc, 8 Mar. 2023 Watanabe described Doyle’s firing as unseemly. Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Sep. 2021 Not much earlier in American history, presidential ambitions had been squelched by tears deemed unseemly and yells deemed too loud; by 2016, a man who was credibly accused of assault—a man who admitted to some of these allegations on tape—was elevated to the White House. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 17 Jan. 2021 As discussed, the First Amendment protects individuals’ right to engage in hate speech, and the state cannot try to inhibit that right, no matter how unseemly or offensive that speech may be to the general public or the state. . . . Cincinnati Enquirer, The Enquirer, 2 Mar. 2023 That, of course, is why a cluttered home is both so common in America and so unseemly. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 8 June 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of unseemly was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near unseemly

Cite this Entry

“Unseemly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unseemly. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: not seemly : not polite or proper
unseemly arguing in public

More from Merriam-Webster on unseemly

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