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[uhn-kleen] /ʌnˈklin/
adjective, uncleaner, uncleanest.
not clean; dirty.
morally impure; evil; vile:
unclean thoughts.
Chiefly Biblical. having a physical or moral blemish so as to make impure according to the laws, especially the dietary or ceremonial laws:
an unclean animal; unclean persons.
Origin of unclean
before 900; Middle English unclene, Old English unclǣne. See un-1, clean
Related forms
uncleanness, noun
1. soiled, filthy. 2. base, unchaste, sinful, corrupt, polluted. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unclean
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The false cannot inherit the true nor the unclean the lovely.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • You shake your heads; then why do you stare at me as though I were a thing accursed and unclean?

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • It was very ugly, but very big, and the streets in front of it were narrow and unclean.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • But a pig is only the unclean animal—the forbidden of the prophet.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • Woe betide—but, was there ever such a gathering of unclean, unholy humanity?

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • She was regarded as some unclean animal that battened upon corruption.

  • He must stand aloof, crying "unclean" in his soul if not with his voice.

    The Missionary George Griffith
  • The taunt hurt him, too, like unclean words from lips beloved.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • That eater of swine aimed a blow at my face with his unclean fist.

British Dictionary definitions for unclean


lacking moral, spiritual, ritual, or physical cleanliness
Derived Forms
uncleanness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unclean

Old English unclæne, "morally impure, defiled, unfit for food," from un- (1) "not" + clean (adj.). Literal sense of "dirty" is recorded from mid-13c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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