Definitions

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

  • adj. Not combed: unkempt hair.
  • adj. Not properly maintained; disorderly or untidy: an unkempt garden. See Synonyms at sloppy.
  • adj. Unpolished; rude.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. dishevelled; untidy; dirty; not kept up

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not combed; disheveled.
  • adj. Fig.; Not smoothed; unpolished; rough.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Uncombed; disheveled: as, unkempt hair; hence, disorderly, Figuratively, rough; unpolished.

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

  • adj. not properly maintained or cared for
  • adj. not neatly combed

Etymologies

Middle English unkemd : un-, not; see un-1 + kembed, past participle of kemben, to comb (from Old English cemban; see gembh- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
un- + Middle English kempt ("combed"), compare German kämmen. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I had never used the word unkempt and from his bizarre behavior, one would think I had suggested his unruly mop looked like the Uni-bomber.

    The Beard

  • a dozen dozing till the June sun strikes their bows, these watercraft that seem to be randomly strewn in unkempt yards.

    Midday Mirage

  • And, referring to my unkempt, bushy eyebrows, she said, “You look just like Brooke Shields!”

    You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again

  • He had removed his coat and starched collar preparatory to playing with the boy, and his disheveled appearance irresistibly recalled the unkempt individual who had first captured my heart.

    The Curse of the Pharaohs

  • So roughly 800 pounds of supposedly highly trained RCMP beef trembled in fear when confronted by the stapler-wielding, "unkempt" Robert Dziekanski.

    maybe it was a very big stapler

  • He was by himself and one interesting thing was that his appearance had changed slightly, that he had lost some weight and his hair grew longer, kind of unkempt is the way we were described to it.

    CNN Transcript Apr 10, 2008

  • Anthony Paltz, 20, a UW-Madison pre-pharmacy student who was walking down State Street at the time, described the arrested man as "unkempt" and said he was wearing a kilt.

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • The victim describes the man as "unkempt" and police are asking for the public's help in identifying the attacker.

    Torontoist

  • The facility appeared "unkempt" and some of the fish tanks were dirty, Brzezinski said.

    KTVU.com - Local News

  • Baldwin St. and Spadina Ave. at around 5: 15 a.m. when a man with an "unkempt" appearance approached her, police said.

    Thestar.com - Home Page

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.