[ uhn-kempt ]
/ ʌnˈkɛmpt /


not combed: unkempt hair.
uncared-for or neglected; disheveled; messy: unkempt clothes; an unkempt lawn.
unpolished; rough; crude.

Nearby words

  1. unjust,
  2. unjustifiable,
  3. unjustified,
  4. unjustly,
  5. unkelos,
  6. unkenned,
  7. unkennel,
  8. unkept,
  9. unkind,
  10. unkindest cut

Origin of unkempt

1590–1600; variant of unkembed; see un-1, kempt

Related formsun·kempt·ly, adverbun·kempt·ness, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unkempt

British Dictionary definitions for unkempt


/ (ʌnˈkɛmpt) /


(of the hair) uncombed; dishevelled
ungroomed; slovenlyunkempt appearance
archaic crude or coarse
Derived Formsunkemptly, adverbunkemptness, noun

Word Origin for unkempt

Old English uncembed; from un- 1 + cembed, past participle of cemban to comb; related to Old Saxon kembian, Old High German kemben to comb

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 unkempt



1570s, from un- (1) "not" + kempt "well-combed, neat," from variant past participle of Old English cemban "to comb," from Proto-Germanic *kambijan, from *kamb- "comb" (see comb). Form unkembed is recorded from late 14c. The verb kemb is rare after 1400s, but its negative past participle form endures.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper