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[uhn-kempt] /ʌnˈkɛmpt/
not combed:
unkempt hair.
uncared-for or neglected; disheveled; messy:
unkempt clothes; an unkempt lawn.
unpolished; rough; crude.
Origin of unkempt
1590-1600; variant of unkembed; see un-1, kempt
Related forms
unkemptly, adverb
unkemptness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unkempt
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He ran through the unkempt garden, and was quickly at the door.

    The Dare Boys of 1776 Stephen Angus Cox
  • Shorn was the unkempt mop of hair and vanished the impudent swagger.

    Cy Whittaker's Place Joseph C. Lincoln
  • He even began a smile in the shadows of his unkempt moustache.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • There were two rough-haired, unkempt horses in the tumble-down stable.

    The Return of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Peter knew me not at first, so changed and unkempt was I with my long journeyings.

    Sir Ludar Talbot Baines Reed
British Dictionary definitions for unkempt


(of the hair) uncombed; dishevelled
ungroomed; slovenly: unkempt appearance
(archaic) crude or coarse
Derived Forms
unkemptly, adverb
unkemptness, noun
Word Origin
Old English uncembed; from un-1 + cembed, past participle of cemban to comb; related to Old Saxon kembian, Old High German kemben to comb
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 unkempt

1570s, from un- (1) "not" + kempt "well-combed, neat," from variant past participle of Old English cemban "to comb," from Proto-Germanic *kambijan, from *kamb- "comb" (see comb). Form unkembed is recorded from late 14c. The verb kemb is rare after 1400s, but its negative past participle form endures.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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