from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Excessively ingratiating or insincerely earnest.
  • adjective Containing or composed of oil or fat.
  • adjective Having the quality or characteristics of oil or ointment; slippery.
  • adjective Abundant in organic materials; soft and rich.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of the nature of or resembling an unguent or ointment; greasy; oily; fat; soapy.
  • oily, or soapy feel when rubbed or touched by the fingers—a characteristic of steatite, talc, serpentine, and other magnesian minerals, due to the magnesia which they contain.
  • Having or characterized by unction; tending to religious fervor; especially, falsely or affectedly fervid, devotional, emotional, gushing, or the like; excessively bland or suave.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Of the nature or quality of an unguent or ointment; fatty; oily; greasy.
  • adjective Having a smooth, greasy feel, as certain minerals.
  • adjective Bland; suave; also, tender; fervid; ; sometimes, insincerely suave or fervid.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective of a liquid or fatty substance Oily or greasy.
  • adjective of a wine, coffee, etc. Rich, lush, intense, with layers of concentrated, soft, velvety flavor.
  • adjective by extension, of a person Profusely polite, especially unpleasantly so and insincerely earnest.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French unctueus, from Medieval Latin ūnctuōsus, from Latin ūnctum, ointment, from neuter past participle of unguere, to anoint.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Medieval Latin unctuōsus (“oily”), from Latin unguere, ungere ("to anoint").


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  • -excessive piousness

    -oily or soapy feel

    September 14, 2007

  • Greasy uncle?

    October 9, 2007

  • "Now we can all be unctuous British gossip bitches" - Jordan McDeere, Studio 60

    October 9, 2007

  • See also extreme unction, which I certainly hope someone has listed on their "Catholic Words" list...

    October 9, 2007

  • Have no fear. Sionnach's on it. :-)

    October 9, 2007

  • 'The coffee is free,'

    an unctuous maître d'hôtel

    once told him at lunch.

    'If it's free it is ghastly,

    or you, sir, are a jackass.'

    - Peter Reading, Limns, from Tom O' Bedlam's Beauties, 1981

    June 28, 2008

  • This word is the first that comes to mind to describe Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice.

    August 5, 2008

  • "Isaac had been staring anxiously at the class when that unctuous bastard Vermishank had looked in." From Perdido Street Station by China Meiville.

    September 18, 2011