not educated; uneducated; untutored; ignorant.
not literate; illiterate.
not marked with letters, as a tombstone.

Origin of unlettered

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at un-1, lettered

Synonyms for unlettered

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

Examples from the Web for unlettered

Contemporary Examples of unlettered

Historical Examples of unlettered

  • I wonder still at the unlettered condition of the boys about me.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • I held him to be a shallow, unlettered clown, devoid of any finer feelings.

    The Shame of Motley

    Raphael Sabatini

  • Foreigners were things which in his untraveled, unlettered ignorance he despised.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • He was unlettered, had never opened a book, and seemed to know little of the ways of men.

    The Arena


  • His letters were the painful efforts of an unlettered mujik, as indeed he was.

    The Minister of Evil

    William Le Queux

British Dictionary definitions for unlettered



uneducated; illiterate
not marked with lettersan unlettered tombstone
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 unlettered

mid-14c., "not possessed of book-learning," from un- (1) "not" + lettered (see letter (n.)). An anglicized form of illiterate. Cf. Middle Dutch ongelettert.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper