not fair; not conforming to approved standards, as of justice, honesty, or ethics: an unfair law; an unfair wage policy.
disproportionate; undue; beyond what is proper or fitting: an unfair share.

Origin of unfair

before 900; 1705–15 for def 1; Middle English: uncomely, ugly; Old English unfæger; cognate with Old Norse ūfagr. See un-1, fair1
Related formsun·fair·ly, adverbun·fair·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unfair

Contemporary Examples of unfair

Historical Examples of unfair

  • But she constantly recalls what that snobbish Bines was unfair enough to tell her.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Why she did not quite like them she did not yet know, and was anxious not to be unfair.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He was a very severe, and often unfair, critic of his predecessors.

    Apu Ollantay


  • "Every single thing that you have done that was unfair to me all my life," said Linda.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Wouldn't it be unfair to Rose to be so generous to his wife?


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

British Dictionary definitions for unfair



characterized by inequality or injustice
dishonest or unethical
Derived Formsunfairly, adverbunfairness, noun
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 unfair

Old English unfægr "unlovely," from un- (1) "not" + fair. Cf. Old Norse ufagr, Gothic unfagrs. Meaning "wicked, evil, bad" is recorded from c.1300. Sense of "not equitable, unjust" is first recorded 1713. Related: Unfairly; unfairness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper