[ uhngk-choo-uhs ]
See synonyms for unctuous on Thesaurus.com
  1. characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, especially in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug.

  2. of the nature of or characteristic of an unguent or ointment; oily; greasy.

  1. having an oily or soapy feel, as certain minerals.

Origin of unctuous

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Medieval Latin ūnctuōsus, equivalent to Latin ūnctu(s) “act of anointing” (ung(uere) “to smear, anoint” + -tus suffix of verb action) + -ōsus -ous

Other words from unctuous

  • unc·tu·ous·ly, adverb
  • unc·tu·ous·ness, unc·tu·os·i·ty [uhngk-choo-os-i-tee], /ˌʌŋk tʃuˈɒs ɪ ti/, noun

Words Nearby unctuous

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use unctuous in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for unctuous


/ (ˈʌŋktjʊəs) /

  1. slippery or greasy

  2. affecting an oily charm

Origin of unctuous

C14: from Medieval Latin unctuōsus, from Latin unctum ointment, from ungere to anoint

Derived forms of unctuous

  • unctuosity (ˌʌŋktjʊˈɒsɪtɪ) or unctuousness, noun
  • unctuously, adverb

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