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[uhn-tuhch-uh-buh l] /ʌnˈtʌtʃ ə bəl/
that may not be touched; of a nature such that it cannot be touched; not palpable; intangible.
too distant to be touched.
vile or loathsome to the touch.
beyond criticism, control, or suspicion:
Modern writers consider no subject untouchable.
Hinduism. the former name given to a member of a lower caste in India whose touch was believed to defile a high-caste Hindu; Harijan.
Compare scheduled caste.
a person who is beyond reproach as to honesty, diligence, etc.
a person disregarded or shunned by society or a particular group; social outcast:
political untouchables.
a person or thing considered inviolable or beyond criticism:
such untouchables as Social Security in the federal budget.
Origin of untouchable
First recorded in 1560-70; un-1 + touchable
Related forms
untouchably, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for untouchable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That you have graciously touched this untouchable Shudra is the proof of your mercy and that of Srvabhauma.

    Chaitanya's Life And Teachings Krishna das Kaviraja
  • The Siamese describe the soul as consisting of some strange matter, invisible and untouchable.

    The Ghost World

    T. F. Thiselton (Thomas Firminger Thiselton) Dyer
  • I may have forgotten to tell you that nearly all of her funds are in untouchable trusts—not in bonds.

    High Man Jay Clarke
  • The devil's club of Alaska is untouchable, it is so encased in a spiny armor; but what purpose the armor serves is a mystery.

    Under the Maples John Burroughs
  • Even to Captain Renfrew black men were dehumanized,—shrouded, untouchable creatures.

    Birthright T.S. Stribling
British Dictionary definitions for untouchable


lying beyond reach
above reproach, suspicion, or impeachment
unable to be touched
(taboo) a former name for Dalit
Derived Forms
untouchability, noun
Usage note
In relation to the caste system, the term untouchable is banned in both the Indian and Pakistani constitutions
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 untouchable

1560s, "immaterial," from un- (1) "not" + touchable (see touch (v.)). Meaning "that legally cannot be interfered with" is recorded from 1734. Meaning "too loathsome or defiling to be touched" is recorded from 1873. The noun, in reference to a hereditary low caste of India, is attested from 1909; the term and the restrictions were made illegal in India in 1947.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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