not skillful; clumsy or bungling.

Also especially British, un·skil·ful.

Origin of unskillful

1350–1400; 1555–65 for current sense; Middle English unskylful unreasonable. See un-1, skillful
Related formsun·skill·ful·ly, adverbun·skill·ful·ness, noun

Synonyms for unskillful

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

Examples from the Web for unskilful

Historical Examples of unskilful

  • It had all the imperfections of unskilful improvisation and its subject was gruesome.

  • For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

  • M. Moriaz is the most unskilful person; but, after all, not much harm is done.

  • Though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve.

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

  • Every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

    Familiar Quotations

    John Bartlett

British Dictionary definitions for unskilful


US unskillful


lacking dexterity or proficiency
(often foll by in) obsolete ignorant (of)
Derived Formsunskilfully or US unskillfully, adverbunskilfulness or US unskillfulness, 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 unskilful



late 14c., "foolish," from un- (1) "not" + skillful. Meaning "inexpert" is from 1560s. Related: Unskillfully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper