not received in exchange for labor or services; not gained by lawful work or employment.
not earned; unmerited; undeserved: unearned promotion.
not yet earned: Lenders are not permitted to take borrowers' unearned wages as collateral.

Origin of unearned

Middle English word dating back to 1150–1200; see origin at un-1, earn1, -ed2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for unearned

unwarranted, unmerited

Examples from the Web for unearned

Contemporary Examples of unearned

Historical Examples of unearned

  • But, you may rightly say, this will not eliminate the unearned incomes.


    John Spargo

  • Like Henry George we both understand the value of unearned increment.

  • God's gift is to be received as purely His gift, undeserved, unearned by us.

  • And far away, Earth could rest in unearned safety for a while.


    Lester del Rey

  • He was deprived by it of nothing except, perhaps, an "unearned increment."

    Between the Lines

    Henry Bascom Smith

British Dictionary definitions for unearned



not deserved
not yet earned
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 unearned

c.1200, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of earn. Unearned income is recorded from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper