- characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, especially in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug.
- of the nature of or characteristic of an unguent or ointment; oily; greasy.
- having an oily or soapy feel, as certain minerals.
Origin of unctuous
Related Wordsfatty, greasy, slick, oleaginous, buttery, fulsome, insincere, smooth, smug, suave, smarmy, groveling, ingratiating, obsequious, servile
Examples from the Web for unctuous
Their righteous outbursts represent an ancient and unctuous form of Kabuki theater.Forget the Wife Beating—Are You Ready for Some Football?
September 11, 2014
It was an emotional speech, but a delightfully graceful, rather than unctuous and overblown, one.The Changing Color of the Oscars: '12 Years A Slave' Makes History
March 3, 2014
The memories of a hundred business trips came roaring back as I recalled the unctuous Cinnabon aroma that wafts through airports.The Appeal of Cinnabon Vodka and the Rise of Flavored Vodkas
November 22, 2013
She laughed a rich, unctuous laugh, and stretched her hands to the blaze.Tiverton Tales
A voice, which was unctuous and insinuative, emanated from the figure.The Black Bag
Louis Joseph Vance
"I haven't the slightest doubt of it," Bobby responded, with unctuous emphasis.The Dominant Strain
Anna Chapin Ray
All this came out of her like an unctuous trickle of some acrid oil.The Arrow of Gold
"The member is unduly excited," replied the chairman, in his most unctuous tones.A Woman for Mayor
Helen M. Winslow
- slippery or greasy
- affecting an oily charm
Word Origin and History for unctuous
late 14c., "oily," from Old French unctueus, from Medieval Latin unctuosus "greasy," from Latin unctus "act of anointing," from past participle stem of unguere "to anoint" (see unguent).
Figurative sense of "blandly ingratiating" is first recorded 1742, perhaps in part with a literal sense, but in part a sarcastic usage from unction in the meaning "deep spiritual feeling" (1690s), such as comes from having been anointed in the rite of unction. Related: Unctuously; unctuousness.
- Containing or composed of oil or fat.