un·​kempt ˌən-ˈkem(p)t How to pronounce unkempt (audio)
: not combed
unkempt hair
: deficient in order or neatness
unkempt individuals
unkempt hotel rooms
also : rough, unpolished
unkempt prose

Example Sentences

She wore rumpled clothing and her hair was unkempt. an unkempt and cluttered room
Recent Examples on the Web They were told their hair was distracting or unkempt. Jailynn Taylor, Essence, 23 Oct. 2022 An unkempt lawn can make even the most stylish home appear less than welcoming, so a good lawnmower is a must to get your grass perfectly manicured. Kat De Naoum, Better Homes & Gardens, 7 Nov. 2022 No spoilers, but the name of Styles’ character, Jack Chambers, began trending on Twitter after fans compared the teaser photo to certain scenes from Darling in which the Grammy winner’s hair and face appear similarly unkempt. Hannah Dailey, Billboard, 27 Oct. 2022 Agatha, on the other hand, with her unkempt hair, baggy clothes (pants, naturally), and DGAF attitude is more of a traditional baddie — just without the resentment and desire to harm. Olivia Truffaut-wong, refinery29.com, 20 Oct. 2022 Like the Reading Terminal, the Liberty Bell, the statues of both William Penn and Rocky Balboa and the lovable, if unkempt cheesesteak? Gene Seymour, CNN, 22 Sep. 2022 Many show unkempt users cooking, driving, working at their computers, or simply lying in bed looking at their phones. Will Oremus, Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2022 To the untrained eye, Nash Prairie looks like an unkempt pasture. Julia Rosen, The Atlantic, 25 July 2022 Today, such a blunder would represent a refusal to survey the field; a refusal to recognize that American politics, like politics everywhere else in the world, is grubby and unkempt and ... Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 25 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unkempt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English unkemd, unkempt, from un- + kembed, kempt, past participle of kemben to comb, from Old English cemban; akin to Old High German chempen to comb, Old English camb comb — more at comb

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unkempt was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near unkempt

Cite this Entry

“Unkempt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unkempt. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



un·​kempt ˌən-ˈkem(p)t How to pronounce unkempt (audio)
: not combed
: lacking in order or neatness : untidy

More from Merriam-Webster on unkempt

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