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See more synonyms for unemployed on Thesaurus.com
  1. not employed; without a job; out of work: an unemployed secretary.
  2. not currently in use: unemployed productive capacity.
  3. not productively used: unemployed capital.
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  1. (used with a plural verb) people who do not have jobs (usually preceded by the): programs to help the unemployed.
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Origin of unemployed

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

Synonyms for unemployed

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. unoccupied, idle, at liberty, jobless.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for unemployed

idle, inactive, jobless, underemployed, down, loafing, free, disengaged, fired, resting, unoccupied, unused, leisured, unapplied, unengaged

Examples from the Web for unemployed

Contemporary Examples of unemployed

Historical Examples of unemployed

  • It is those who are unemployed to whom expectation becomes an agony.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • How to put the unemployed millions to work is the problem of the day.

  • His idleness, Emma; surely, you don't mean that; he's seldom if ever unemployed.

    The Settlers in Canada

    Frederick Marryat

  • It is that unemployed force in our hearts which is striving for union with others.

    The Choice of Life

    Georgette Leblanc

  • Her son had not this gift; or, if he had, he left it unemployed.


    Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)

British Dictionary definitions for unemployed


    1. without remunerative employment; out of work
    2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the unemployed
  1. not being used; idle
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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"]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper