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  1. not familiar; not acquainted with or conversant about: to be unfamiliar with a subject.
  2. different; unaccustomed; unusual; strange: an unfamiliar treat.
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Origin of unfamiliar

First recorded in 1585–95; un-1 + familiar
Related formsun·fa·mil·i·ar·i·ty [uhn-fuh-mil-ee-ar-i-tee] /ˌʌn fəˌmɪl iˈær ɪ ti/, nounun·fa·mil·iar·ly, adverb

Synonyms for unfamiliar

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for unfamiliar

unexplored, exotic, unusual, unexpected, unknown, foreign, unaccustomed, curious, new, obscure, peculiar, bizarre, unaware, oblivious, alien, anomalous, extraordinary, fantastic, novel, original

Examples from the Web for unfamiliar

Contemporary Examples of unfamiliar

Historical Examples of unfamiliar

  • He was not unfamiliar with the lot of one who dines with the learned Von Herzlich.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Do not disturb the prestige which belongs to a distant and unfamiliar power.

  • My heart sank and my voice dwindled to a quavering, unfamiliar whisper.

  • I am so unfamiliar with this room that I haven't any favorite chair.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • His very desolation, amidst the unfamiliar faces, awed and chilled him.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for unfamiliar


  1. not known or experienced; strange
  2. (postpositive foll by with) not familiar
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Derived Formsunfamiliarity (ˌʌnfəˌmɪlɪˈærɪtɪ), noununfamiliarly, 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 unfamiliar


1590s, from un- (1) "not" + familiar. Related: Unfamiliarly.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper