unkempt

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From earlier unkembed, unkemmed, from Middle English unkempt (uncombed), equivalent to un- +‎ kempt. Compare Old Norse úkembdr (uncombed; unkempt"; > Icelandic ókembdur), German ungekämmt (unkempt), Dutch ongekamd. More at kemb.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

unkempt (comparative more unkempt, superlative most unkempt)

  1. (of hair) Uncombed; dishevelled.
    • 1898, H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, London: William Heinemann, page 289:
      Men on cycles, lean-faced, unkempt, scorched along every country lane, shouting of unhoped deliverance, shouting to gaunt, staring figures of despair.
  2. (by extension) Disorderly; untidy; messy; not kept up.
  3. (figurative) Rough; unpolished

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