See more synonyms for unsettle on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), un·set·tled, un·set·tling.
  1. to alter from a settled state; cause to be no longer firmly fixed or established; render unstable; disturb: Violence unsettled the government.
  2. to shake or weaken (beliefs, feelings, etc.); cause doubt or uncertainty about: doubts unsettling his religious convictions.
  3. to vex or agitate the mind or emotions of; upset; discompose: The quarrel unsettled her.
verb (used without object), un·set·tled, un·set·tling.
  1. to become unfixed or disordered.

Origin of unsettle

First recorded in 1535–45; un-2 + settle1

Synonyms for unsettle

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

Examples from the Web for unsettling

Contemporary Examples of unsettling

Historical Examples of unsettling

  • They were unsettling, they caused pain; and, what was worse, they might have been true for all we knew.

  • I knew it was her voice, and not her logic, that was unsettling me.

    The Long Run

    Edith Wharton

  • He seems to know that some unsettling and untoward event is on the way.

    The Prairie Mother

    Arthur Stringer

  • Moments like this were unsettling—and to be guarded against.

    The Tyranny of Weakness

    Charles Neville Buck

  • True believers were so scarce that it was wicked to think of unsettling their faith.

    Miss Mapp

    Edward Frederic Benson

British Dictionary definitions for unsettling


  1. (usually tr) to change or become changed from a fixed or settled condition
  2. (tr) to confuse or agitate (emotions, the mind, etc)
Derived Formsunsettlement, noun
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 unsettling



1590s, "undo from a fixed position, from un- (2) + settle (v.). Of the mind, feelings, etc., attested from 1640s. Unsettled "not peaceful, not firmly established" is recorded from 1590s. Meaning "not occupied by settlers" is attested from 1724. Related: Unsettled; unsettling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper