Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[uhn-sey-vuh-ree] /ʌnˈseɪ və ri/
not savory; tasteless or insipid:
an unsavory meal.
unpleasant in taste or smell; distasteful.
unappealing or disagreeable, as a pursuit:
Poor teachers can make education unsavory.
socially or morally objectionable or offensive:
an unsavory past; an unsavory person.
Also, especially British, unsavoury.
Origin of unsavory
Middle English word dating back to 1175-1225; See origin at un-1, savory1
Related forms
unsavorily, adverb
unsavoriness, noun
1. flat, unappetizing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for unsavoury
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was on the other side of Miriam, and his unsavoury presence was nearer to her than I cared for.

    Upsidonia Archibald Marshall
  • It does not linger to corrupt the mind with an unsavoury after-flavour.

    Change in the Village (AKA George Bourne) George Sturt
  • One very great reality in connection with its unsavoury reputation is the tunnel-like opening leading Strandward.

    Dickens' London Francis Miltoun
  • With this unsavoury acquisition on my lap I resumed my seat.

  • An unsavoury, sordid drama, but it is treated in the same cool, business-like way as the other trivial charges.

    Scotland Yard George Dilnot
  • The savages eat their flesh, but which has an unsavoury taste.

    Buffon's Natural History. Volume VII (of 10) Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon
  • All the religio loci, if such a phrase is permissible in connection with Tiberius, seems centered in this unsavoury personality.

    The Mediterranean T. G. (Thomas Gray) Bonney, E. A. R. Ball, H. D. Traill, Grant Allen, and Arthur Griffiths
  • The flesh is hard, unsavoury, and little esteemed by the Tartars.

  • I had baked an eel-pie for dinner, which if prepared well is by no means an unsavoury dish.

    Roughing it in the Bush Susanna Moodie
British Dictionary definitions for unsavoury


objectionable or distasteful: an unsavoury character
disagreeable in odour or taste
Derived Forms
unsavourily, (US) unsavorily, adverb
unsavouriness, (US) unsavoriness, 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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for unsavoury



early 13c., "tasteless, insipid," from un- (1) "not" + savory (adj.). Meaning "unpleasant or disagreeable to the taste" is attested from late 14c.; of persons, from c.1400.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for unsavory

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for unsavoury

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for unsavoury