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See more synonyms for unclean on Thesaurus.com
adjective, un·clean·er, un·clean·est.
  1. not clean; dirty.
  2. morally impure; evil; vile: unclean thoughts.
  3. Chiefly Biblical. having a physical or moral blemish so as to make impure according to the laws, especially the dietary or ceremonial laws: an unclean animal; unclean persons.
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Origin of unclean

before 900; Middle English unclene, Old English unclǣne. See un-1, clean
Related formsun·clean·ness, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for unclean

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The false cannot inherit the true nor the unclean the lovely.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • You shake your heads; then why do you stare at me as though I were a thing accursed and unclean?

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • It was very ugly, but very big, and the streets in front of it were narrow and unclean.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • But a pig is only the unclean animal—the forbidden of the prophet.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Woe betide—but, was there ever such a gathering of unclean, unholy humanity?

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for unclean


  1. lacking moral, spiritual, ritual, or physical cleanliness
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Derived Formsuncleanness, 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

Word Origin and History for unclean


Old English unclæne, "morally impure, defiled, unfit for food," from un- (1) "not" + clean (adj.). Literal sense of "dirty" is recorded from mid-13c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper