un·​whole·​some ˌən-ˈhōl-səm How to pronounce unwholesome (audio)
: detrimental to physical, mental, or moral well-being : unhealthy
unwholesome food
unwholesome pastimes
: corrupt, unsound
shady unwholesome dealings
: offensive to the senses : loathsome
the unwholesome stench
unwholesomely adverb

Examples of unwholesome in a Sentence

He has an unwholesome fascination with death. health inspectors shut down several food stands that were using tainted and unwholesome meat
Recent Examples on the Web As for the place, its veneer of comfortable tourism doesn’t hide the air of something unwholesome, especially when female guests start randomly throwing up. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2024 Less visibly, Manton operated a side business with a more unwholesome objective: cashing in on his status and power as a judge. Time, 25 July 2023 In celebration of her return, everyone from comedian Melissa McCarthy, who’s playing the conniving nemesis of King Triton, to film historians, are taking the opportunity to pay tribute to the legendary drag queen who inspired Ursula’s unwholesome ways: Divine. Elaina Patton, NBC News, 26 May 2023 This syndrome originally surfaced in 1926, when residents of Haverhill, Massachusetts drank unwholesome milk and suffered soaring temps, aching joints, and skin lesions ranging from flat, red spots to papules, pustules, and blisters—the same telltale features earlier linked to bites. Claire Panosian Dunavan, Discover Magazine, 28 Feb. 2018 There was something indefinably unwholesome about him. Ian McEwan, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 And in more than 250 episodes, little-sister character Dora Winifred Read was a blissfully unwholesome role model for little girls: smart, funny, and unlikable. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 23 Feb. 2022 The air around Brainerd registers an unwholesome shade of brown. Star Tribune, 30 July 2021 But the urge to remove monuments, rename buildings and expunge holiday appellations has become an unwholesome obsession on the political left. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 13 June 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unwholesome.' 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 unwholesome was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near unwholesome

Cite this Entry

“Unwholesome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unwholesome. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​whole·​some ˌən-ˈhōl-səm How to pronounce unwholesome (audio)
: bad for the well-being of the body, mind, or soul : unhealthy
unwholesome food

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