[uhn-ee-kwuh l]


not equal; not of the same quantity, quality, value, rank, ability, etc.: People are unequal in their capacities.
not adequate, as in amount, power, ability, etc. (usually followed by to): strength unequal to the task.
not evenly proportioned or balanced; not having the parts alike or symmetrical: an unequal leaf.
uneven or variable in character, quality, etc.
Obsolete. inequitable; unfair; unjust.


unequals, persons or things not equal to each other: a contest between obvious unequals.

Origin of unequal

First recorded in 1525–35; un-1 + equal
Related formsun·e·qual·ly, adverbun·e·qual·ness, nounsub·un·e·qual, adjectivesub·un·e·qual·ly, adverbsub·un·e·qual·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for unequally

unevenly, unfairly

Examples from the Web for unequally

Historical Examples of unequally

  • Marriage has ever been a one-sided matter, resting most unequally upon the sexes.

  • Our perceptions, æsthetic and gastronomic, were unequally developed.

    The Foot-path Way

    Bradford Torrey

  • His lips were bloodless as he stared at the unequally matched pair.

    Joshua, Complete

    Georg Ebers

  • The benefits are unequally distributed, but nearly all share in them to some degree.

  • It is unequally and often unjustly or defectively administered.

British Dictionary definitions for unequally



not equal in quantity, size, rank, value, etc
(foll by to) inadequate; insufficient
not evenly balanced
(of character, quality, etc) irregular; varying; inconsistent
(of a contest, etc) having competitors of different ability
obsolete unjust
Derived Formsunequally, adverb
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 unequally



1530s, "unjust, unfair," from un- (1) "not" + equal (adj.). Meaning "not the same in amount, size, quality, etc." is recorded from 1560s (inequal in this sense is from late 14c.). Sense of "inadequate, insufficient" (to some task) is attested from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper