[uhngk-shuh n]


an act of anointing, especially as a medical treatment or religious rite.
an unguent or ointment; salve.
something soothing or comforting.
an excessive, affected, sometimes cloying earnestness or fervor in manner, especially in speaking.
  1. the oil used in religious rites, as in anointing the sick or dying.
  2. the shedding of a divine or spiritual influence upon a person.
  3. the influence shed.
  4. extreme unction.
the manifestation of spiritual or religious inspiration.

Origin of unction

1350–1400; Middle English unctioun < Latin ūnctiōn (stem of ūnctiō) anointing, besmearing, equivalent to ūnct(us) (past participle of ung(u)ere to smear, anoint) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsunc·tion·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for unction

oil, salve, lotion, unguent, cream, chrism, blessing

Examples from the Web for unction

Historical Examples of unction

  • Mr Pancks answered, with an unction which there is no language to convey, 'We rather think so.'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Juve pronounced these words with unction, in a solemn voice.

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • If she should be able, after receiving absolution and the unction, she—she may see you, monsignor.

    The Genius

    Margaret Horton Potter

  • The others found an unction in my words, and that they operated in them what I said.

    The Autobiography of Madame Guyon

    Jeanne Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon

  • "Well, you boys listen to this," and the postmaster read the item with unction.

British Dictionary definitions for unction



mainly RC Church Eastern Churches the act of anointing with oil in sacramental ceremonies, in the conferring of holy orders
excessive suavity or affected charm
an ointment or unguent
anything soothing or comforting
Derived Formsunctionless, adjective

Word Origin for unction

C14: from Latin unctiō an anointing, from ungere to anoint; see unguent
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 unction

late 14c., "act of anointing as a religious rite," from Latin unctionem (nominative unctio) "anointing," from unctus, past participle of ungere "to anoint" (see unguent).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

unction in Medicine




The action of applying or rubbing with an ointment or oil.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.