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[uhn-hoh-lee] /ʌnˈhoʊ li/
adjective, unholier, unholiest.
not holy; not sacred or hallowed.
impious; sinful; wicked.
Informal. dreadful; ungodly:
They got us out of bed at the unholy hour of three in the morning.
Origin of unholy
before 1000; Middle English; Old English unhālig (cognate with Dutch onheilig, Old Norse ūheilagr). See un-1, holy
Related forms
unholiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unholy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Woe betide—but, was there ever such a gathering of unclean, unholy humanity?

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • “I can think about both,” was my unholy, time-serving reply.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • They, too, might be banished, if the feeling that they were unholy and abominable could sink into the minds of men.

    Laws Plato
  • The declaration that such things are hateful to the Gods, and most abominable and unholy.

    Laws Plato
  • The legislator who puts them in another order is doing an unholy and unpatriotic thing.

    Laws Plato
British Dictionary definitions for unholy


adjective -lier, -liest
not holy or sacred
immoral or depraved
(informal) outrageous or unnatural: an unholy alliance
Derived Forms
unholiness, 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 unholy

Old English unhalig, "impious, profane, wicked," from un- (1) "not" + halig (see holy). Cf. Middle Dutch onheilich, Old Norse uheilagr, Danish unhellig, Swedish ohelig. In reference to actions, it is attested from late 14c. Colloquial sense of "awful, dreadful" is recorded from 1842.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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