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  1. not savory; tasteless or insipid: an unsavory meal.
  2. unpleasant in taste or smell; distasteful.
  3. unappealing or disagreeable, as a pursuit: Poor teachers can make education unsavory.
  4. socially or morally objectionable or offensive: an unsavory past; an unsavory person.
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Also especially British, un·sa·vour·y.

Origin of unsavory

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at un-1, savory1
Related formsun·sa·vor·i·ly, adverbun·sa·vor·i·ness, noun

Synonyms for unsavory

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

Related Words for unsavory

distasteful, objectionable, shady, unpalatable, unpleasant, unappetizing, nasty, obnoxious, offensive, acid, bitter, bland, disagreeable, dull, flavorless, gross, icky, insipid, lousy, nauseating

Examples from the Web for unsavory

Contemporary Examples of unsavory

Historical Examples of unsavory

Word Origin and History for unsavory


early 13c., "tasteless, insipid," from un- (1) "not" + savory (adj.). Meaning "unpleasant or disagreeable to the taste" is attested from late 14c.; of persons, from c.1400.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper