un·​writ·​ten | \ˌən-ˈri-tᵊn \

Definition of unwritten 

1 : not expressed in writing : oral, traditional an unwritten rule

2 : containing no writing : blank

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Synonyms & Antonyms for unwritten


nuncupative, oral, spoken, verbal, viva voce, word-of-mouth


paper, written

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Examples of unwritten in a Sentence

They had an unwritten agreement. an unwritten contract may not be enforceable

Recent Examples on the Web

However, there does seem to be an unwritten friendship rule that friends shouldn't hook up with one another's exes. Amy Dickinson, Anchorage Daily News, "Ask Amy: ICE-age dilemma brings on icy response," 25 June 2018 The probe was launched by the Justice Department, as a defensive measure, after Mr Trump sacked his FBI chief James Comey: its unwritten mission is to ensure the wheels of justice remain free of presidential interference. The Economist, "The Mueller probe is as much about the rule of law as Russian meddling," 14 Apr. 2018 In his words and actions, Trump has shown little patience for unwritten norms and customs that have acted to constrain the authority of his office over the last two centuries. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump's above-the-law presidency," 4 June 2018 Since his election, legal scholars, former prosecutors and other critics have argued that the president’s flagrant disregard for unwritten norms is degrading American democracy. Nina Burleigh, Newsweek, "Trump vs. Mueller: Is the American Legal System Any Match for the President?," 8 Mar. 2018 Like Mr Frum, the professors correctly stress the importance of unwritten norms that buttress the formal protections that are set out in America’s constitution and legal codes. The Economist, "The deeper shifts affecting democracy in America," 25 Jan. 2018 That's an unwritten rule that the city's brewers take to heart for Drink Brew City Week, an 11-day series of events celebrating craft beer brewed here. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee breweries will celebrate all things beer during Drink Brew City Week," 13 July 2018 These unwritten rules govern who deserves sympathy and who doesn’t. Joan C. Williams, WSJ, "The Elites Feed Anti-Immigrant Bias," 9 July 2018 Indeed, Taylor broke an unwritten rule by running up the score, but Romo was out of line as well. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Could Giants, other teams be cautious at trade deadline because of luxury tax?," 30 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for unwritten

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unwritten

The first known use of unwritten was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for unwritten



English Language Learners Definition of unwritten

: spoken or understood without being written


un·​writ·​ten | \ˌən-ˈri-tᵊn \

Kids Definition of unwritten

: not in writing : followed by custom unwritten law

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Comments on unwritten

What made you want to look up unwritten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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