[ uhn-em-ploid ]
/ ˌʌn ɛmˈplɔɪd /


not employed; without a job; out of work: an unemployed secretary.
not currently in use: unemployed productive capacity.
not productively used: unemployed capital.


(used with a plural verb) people who do not have jobs (usually preceded by the): programs to help the unemployed.

Nearby words

  1. unelectable,
  2. unemancipated,
  3. unembarrassed,
  4. unemotional,
  5. unemployable,
  6. unemployment,
  7. unemployment benefit,
  8. unemployment compensation,
  9. unemployment insurance,
  10. unencrypted

Origin of unemployed

First recorded in 1590–1600; un-1 + employ + -ed2

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

Examples from the Web for unemployed

British Dictionary definitions for unemployed


/ (ˌʌnɪmˈplɔɪd) /


  1. without remunerative employment; out of work
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the unemployed
not being used; idle
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 unemployed



1600, "at leisure, not occupied," from un- (1) "not" + past participle of employ. Meaning "temporarily out of work" is from 1660s. The noun meaning "unemployed persons collectively" is from 1782; unemployment first recorded 1888.

[Say the] voices of the unemployed ...
No man has hired us
With pocketed hands
And lowered faces
We stand about in open places
And shiver in unlit rooms ...

[T.S. Eliot, "Choruses from the Rock"]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper