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

  • adjective Not in accord with accepted standards of decency or morality.
  • adjective Not suited to the circumstances; inappropriate.
  • adjective Unattractive; unsightly.
  • adverb In an improper or inappropriate manner.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Not seemly; not fit or becoming; uncomely; unbecoming; indecent; improper.
  • Synonyms Unmeet, unfit, indecorous.
  • In an unseemly manner; indecently; unbecomingly; improperly.

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

  • adverb In an unseemly manner.
  • adjective Not seemly; unbecoming; indecent.

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

  • adjective Inconsistent with established standards of good form or taste.

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

  • adjective not in keeping with accepted standards of what is right or proper in polite society


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English unsemli, probably from a partial translation of Old Norse úsǽmiligr ("unseemly"), equivalent to un- +‎ seemly. Cognate with Icelandic ósæmileg ("offensive"), Norwegian usømmelig ("unseemly"), Danish usømmeligt ("unseemly").


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  • a pure skin, and had only roused in him an unseemly delight in his own cleanness -- _unseemly_, for it was such that he paid no heed to the

    Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. George MacDonald 1864

  • President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday expressed deep concern over what he called the unseemly squabble that had broken out over SAA's former CEO Coleman Andrews.

    ANC Daily News Briefing 2001

  • Yoj refused to look at anyone but Mill, afraid she would laugh, too, both from horror and in unseemly jubilation at Dodd's defense.

    SKENE: CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT Maggie Jochild 2007

  • He had no sense of incongruity to make the phrase unseemly or ludicrous.

    The Puritans Arlo Bates 1884

  • Or worse, if they engage in unseemly bargains to buy individual Senators’ votes with measures against the public interest ….

    Matthew Yglesias » Change . . . If You Want It 2010

  • I know some of you are drooling, very unseemly, that is the part of the lions! cyndieking

    Palin: 'My heart goes out to Huckabee' 2009

  • If the ordinary course of the law is to be described as unseemly retribution, then all justice asks too severe a sacrifice of our self-love.

    David Bromwich: Expedience and the Torture Amnesty 2009

  • I do not recall the unseemly invasion of privacy visited upon Dr Tshabalala-Msimang or the glee with which her initial illness was greeted by the commercial media and opposition parties being visited upon either of these two men or their families.

    ANC Today 2007

  • I do not recall the unseemly invasion of privacy visited upon

    ANC Today 2007

  • Certainly not Romney, does anyone else recall the unseemly haste he made to Boston to shoulder Jingle Money Swift aside when Christy Mihos showed him a favorable poll?

    The Chimes at Midnight 2005


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