not savory; tasteless or insipid: an unsavory meal.
unpleasant in taste or smell; distasteful.
unappealing or disagreeable, as a pursuit: Poor teachers can make education unsavory.
socially or morally objectionable or offensive: an unsavory past; an unsavory person.

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

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

Examples from the Web for unsavory

Contemporary Examples of unsavory

Historical Examples of unsavory

  • They did unsavory cooking over the open fire till their small supply of wood gave out.

    Home Fires in France

    Dorothy Canfield

  • I should not care to entrust my daughter or sister to the keeping of a man with my unsavory reputation.

    Nat Goodwin's Book

    Nat C. Goodwin

  • The street is and always has been narrow, and, from its proximity to the fish-market, is and always has been unsavory.


    Walter Besant

  • Neither can be depended upon and generally both have unsavory reputations.

  • Poetry is truly an unsavory implement when it so demeans a smart officer to defer to a civilian.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper