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

  • adjective Not coated with varnish.
  • adjective Stated or otherwise presented without any effort to soften or disguise; plain.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Not overlaid with varnish.
  • Not artfully embellished; plain.

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

  • adjective Not having been coated with varnish (or other surface treatment).
  • adjective Pure, natural, unmodified (especially in the phrase "unvarnished truth").

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

  • adjective free from any effort to soften to disguise
  • adjective not having a coating of stain or varnish


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • What he called unvarnished and straight from the shoulder.

    CNN Transcript Dec 20, 2006 2006

  • Little did she think, that, from among the poor and despised whom her tyranny was oppressing, there was one gradually being prepared, upon whose plain unvarnished words should follow consternating judgments, before which the pride of her dominion was to be laid level with the dust.

    The Assassinated President 1865

  • A plain unvarnished tale is preferable to the most highly ornamented narrative.

    Castle Rackrent: An Hibernian Tale 1800

  • But it’s critical the facts themselves remain unvarnished and undistorted.

    The worst agenda is a hidden agenda « BuzzMachine 2005

  • We want you to see her unvarnished was his phrase for 90 minutes and then you can put Sarah Palin in context and see what people in Alaska liked about her.

    CNN Transcript Oct 2, 2008 2008

  • This afternoon, President Bush turns to the Iraq War and wants being called the unvarnished assessment.

    CNN Transcript Aug 31, 2007 2007

  • There is a certain charm of _naiveté_, that recalls the unvarnished simplicity of the Italian painters before Raphael.

    Critical Miscellanies, Vol. 1, Essay 5, Emerson John Morley 1880

  • He once called himself a "traveller in the undiscovered country of the poor" and said his aim was to give "a literal description of the people's labour, their earnings, their trials, and their sufferings, in their own 'unvarnished' language."

    Sociology most Dickensian Michael Dirda 2011

  • Another part is that often those of us who are familiar with it don't realize how opaque that process can be, and another part is, as I've tried to point out, that economic models based on either "unvarnished" entertainment models or industrial models don't work, because publishing is truly a "mixed" business.

    Why Amazon and Some Readers Are Wrong « L.E. Modesitt, Jr. – The Official Website 2010

  • The recently released 2009 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings provide this kind of unvarnished insight -- offering an important measure of agency management and leadership, and providing an alert system for signs of trouble and dysfunction.

    Max Stier: Rankings Offer Congress Insider View of Federal Agencies 2009


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