• synonyms


  1. not skillful; clumsy or bungling.
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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


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

Examples from the Web for unskilful

Historical Examples

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

    An Outcast of the Islands

    Joseph Conrad

  • 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

  1. lacking dexterity or proficiency
  2. (often foll by in) obsolete ignorant (of)
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper