[ uhngk-choo-uh s ]
/ ˈʌŋk tʃu əs /


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.

Nearby words

  1. unctad,
  2. unction,
  3. unctious,
  4. unctuarium,
  5. unctuosity,
  6. unctuously,
  7. uncultivated,
  8. unculture,
  9. uncultured,
  10. uncurl

Origin of unctuous

1350–1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin ūnctuōsus, equivalent to Latin ūnctu(s) act of anointing (ung(uere) to smear, anoint + -tus suffix of v. action) + -ōsus -ous

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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unctuous

British Dictionary definitions for unctuous


/ (ˈʌŋktjʊəs) /


slippery or greasy
affecting an oily charm
Derived Formsunctuosity (ˌʌŋktjʊˈɒsɪtɪ) or unctuousness, noununctuously, adverb

Word Origin for unctuous

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

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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for unctuous


[ ŭngkchōō-əs ]


Containing or composed of oil or fat.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.