b : smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
2 : plastic
3 : insincerely smooth in speech and manner
Did You Know?
Nowadays, unctuous usually has a negative connotation, but it originated as a term describing a positive act, that of healing. The word comes from the Latin verb unguere ("to anoint"), a root that also gave rise to the words unguent ("a soothing or healing salve") and ointment. The oily nature of ointments may have led to the application of unctuous to describe things marked by an artificial gloss of sentimentality. An unctuous individual may mean well, but his or her insincere earnestness can leave an unwelcome residue with others, much like some ointments.
Anna was thankful that the unctuous man who first greeted her at the modeling agency would not be the person she would be working with.
"To make the most of its amazing qualities, marinate the lamb for a few hours and then slow-cook the meat. Over time, the layers of fat reduce to sticky, unctuous, lip-smacking perfection and help keep the meat moist…." — Ben Tish, The Guardian, 5 Mar. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
What synonym of unctuous originated as a spelling alteration of the adjective slick?VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP