[uhn-ree-duh-buh l]


not readable; undecipherable; scribbled: His scrawl was almost unreadable.
not interesting to read; dull; tedious; an unreadable treatise.
extraordinarily difficult to read or comprehend; obscure; incomprehensible: an unreadable dream; an unreadable expression.

Origin of unreadable

First recorded in 1795–1805; un-1 + readable
Related formsun·read·a·bil·i·ty, un·read·a·ble·ness, nounun·read·a·bly, adverb
Can be confusedillegible illiterate unreadable
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unreadable

Contemporary Examples of unreadable

Historical Examples of unreadable

  • His works are the most famous and the most unreadable in all Germany.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Since we met, I've written the first draft of a novel, which is unreadable, and a play.

  • She did not take it, but looked around the room with unreadable eyes.

    The Plunderer

    Roy Norton

  • She watched his concern, her pose languid, her eyes raised to him, but as unreadable as ever.


    Joseph Conrad

  • Her face was unreadable; her mental block was at its fullest force.

    The Galaxy Primes

    Edward Elmer Smith

British Dictionary definitions for unreadable



illegible; undecipherable
difficult or tedious to read
Derived Formsunreadability or unreadableness, noununreadably, 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 unreadable

c.1810, of written material, "dull, distasteful," from un- (1) "not" + readable. Meaning "illegible" is from 1830.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper