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 unfairness

Contemporary Examples of unfairness

Historical Examples of unfairness

  • He felt the insincerity of his father's laugh, and rebelled against the unfairness of it.


    E. F. Benson

  • Yet all I could do was to rail against the unfairness of the unwarranted punishment.

    Highways in Hiding

    George Oliver Smith

  • Failing there they meant to raise a cry of unfairness and walk out.

  • If you had not been so busy boasting over your own unfairness you could have heard our approach.

    Marjorie Dean

    Pauline Lester

  • Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter.

    Peter and Wendy

    James Matthew Barrie

British Dictionary definitions for unfairness



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 unfairness



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