un·​touch·​able | \ ˌən-ˈtə-chə-bəl How to pronounce untouchable (audio) \

Definition of untouchable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : forbidden to the touch : not to be handled
b : exempt from criticism or control
2 : lying beyond reach
3 : disagreeable or defiling to the touch



Definition of untouchable (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is untouchable specifically : a member of a large formerly segregated hereditary group in India having in traditional Hindu belief the quality of defiling by contact a member of a higher caste

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Examples of untouchable in a Sentence

Adjective The mayor believed that he was untouchable and not subject to the same laws as the rest of us. The team's record was untouchable.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective All this, despite news the company would slash its once untouchable dividend by 50%, even deeper than expected, and write off $6.5 billion in oil and gas assets. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "BP said it will cut oil production 40% and the stock market didn’t blink," 7 Aug. 2020 The monarchy, however, remains an untouchable institution, protected from criticism by strict lese majeste laws. Tassanee Vejpongsa, Star Tribune, "Royalists in Thailand rally against pro-democracy protesters," 30 July 2020 There are seemingly untouchable issues for each side too. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "'These 2 bills aren’t mateable': Republicans, Democrats at odds on a coronavirus stimulus deal as pressure builds," 30 July 2020 In this election, his brother, Lee Hsien Yang, came out against the prime minister and instead lent his support to a new opposition party, spotlighting a deepening feud within a family once considered untouchable in Singapore politics. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "Singapore ruling party holds on to supermajority, but with historic losses," 11 July 2020 In the win over the Braves, the Astros scored seven in the first, four in the second and six in the third for their untouchable 17-0 advantage. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "League City Little League Astros sweep Saturday morning twinbill," 11 July 2020 Normally near untouchable until retirement, the government has eased the rules on early access. Emily Cadman, Fortune, "Legacy of global financial crisis means Gen Z is hardest hit by the COVID economy," 6 July 2020 Because of this, the international financial system may soon deem Lebanon's banks untouchable, said Shaar. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "As the US rolls out new sanctions on Assad, Syria braces for economic devastation," 17 June 2020 Players will have a legitimate chance at typically untouchable marks like a .400 batting average or a sub-1.00 ERA. Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati.com, "Opinion: Major League Baseball swings and misses during its turn in the spotlight," 10 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Virus piles on the pain for India's 'untouchables' India's caste system was officially abolished in 1950, but the 2,000-year-old social system imposed on people by birth still exists in many aspects of life. Eliza Mackintosh, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Thursday, April 16," 16 Apr. 2020 The untouchables Lam’s continuing refusal to set up an independent inquiry has raised questions as to whether the government has ultimate authority over the police force in the wake of the territory’s return to China. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Who will police the Hong Kong police?," 11 Dec. 2019 Apple TV+ has reportedly sunk at least $1 billion — and possibly $6 billion — into its original content, signing untouchables like Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams as production heavyweights. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Streaming TV sparked a creative revolution. Now it’s at risk of losing its edge," 10 Oct. 2019 Two hundred million of them are Dalit, or what used to be called untouchables. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Amartya Sen’s Hopes and Fears for Indian Democracy," 6 Oct. 2019 The relative increase in the Muslim population that the census had established, and the uncertain status of untouchables and tribal groups as Hindus for enumeration purposes made the definition of a Hindu all the more critical. Vikram Sampath, Quartz India, "The father of Hindutva believed Aryans migrated to India," 20 Aug. 2019 Many of the crimes against women and children have also been hate crimes against Dalits (untouchables) and minorities, argues Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association. Sam Kiley, CNN, "How a child rape revealed the problems facing modern India," 17 May 2018 But some of the village’s poorest residents — former untouchables — were given new connections in January after living for decades in darkness. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "Every village in India now has electricity. But millions still live in darkness.," 30 Apr. 2018 Since the constitution banned discrimination against untouchables 70 years ago, and with quotas for state schools, jobs and elected offices giving Dalits a leg up, gaps in education, income and health have steadily shrunk. The Economist, "UnconscionableLow-caste Indians are better off than ever—but that’s not saying much," 25 Jan. 2018

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


1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1909, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for untouchable

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The first known use of untouchable was in 1607

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Statistics for untouchable

Last Updated

9 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Untouchable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/untouchable. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for untouchable


How to pronounce untouchable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of untouchable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: too powerful or important to be punished, criticized, etc.
: too good to be equaled by anyone else



English Language Learners Definition of untouchable (Entry 2 of 2)

: a member of the lowest social class in India

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