un·​set·​tle ˌən-ˈse-tᵊl How to pronounce unsettle (audio)
unsettled; unsettling; unsettles

transitive verb

: to loosen or move from a settled state or condition : make unstable : disorder
: to perturb or agitate mentally or emotionally : discompose

Examples of unsettle in a Sentence

Such a sudden change will unsettle her. the news that the local grocery store had sold contaminated produce unsettled many shoppers
Recent Examples on the Web Woes at Credit Suisse — before the UBS merger — and the two U.S. banks unsettled global financial markets in 2023. Jamey Keaten, Quartz, 6 Feb. 2024 Larry is unsettled, as a Jew, by the militant posters on the restaurant’s walls. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Miami players looked a bit flat and unsettled at the start, perhaps still getting acclimated to the eight-hour time difference and the integration of new players. Michelle Kaufman, Miami Herald, 29 Jan. 2024 Whether this means publishing something controversial on your Substack or getting into it IRL with your friends over coffee, there are all kinds of impassioned exchanges happening for you this month, and these conversations will give you life and unsettle you all at once. Steph Koyfman, Condé Nast Traveler, 26 Jan. 2024 However, under Musk’s leadership, the company’s path has been tumultuous, characterized by notable technical hiccups, controversies surrounding content moderation, and alterations to features that have unsettled many longtime users. Kylie Robison, Fortune, 2 Jan. 2024 Lucy Liu, who stars in the film, seemed to have been genuinely unsettled by the on-screen paranormal activity. Brent Lang, Variety, 24 Jan. 2024 Xi had no problem with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which risked unsettling Europe, China’s main trading partner. Christian Schneider, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 Image generation systems also routinely impressed and unsettled us with their artistic abilities, yet these were explicitly founded on concepts borrowed from physics. Quanta Magazine, 20 Dec. 2023 See More

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

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unsettle was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near unsettle

Cite this Entry

“Unsettle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unsettle. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​set·​tle ˌən-ˈset-ᵊl How to pronounce unsettle (audio)
: to move or loosen from a settled state
: to make uneasy
change unsettles him

More from Merriam-Webster on unsettle

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!