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  1. not wholesome; unhealthful; deleterious to health or physical or moral well-being: unwholesome food; unwholesome activities.
  2. not sound in health; unhealthy, especially in appearance; suggestive of disease: an unwholesome pallor.
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Origin of unwholesome

Middle English word dating back to 1150–1200; see origin at un-1, wholesome
Related formsun·whole·some·ly, adverbun·whole·some·ness, noun

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

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British Dictionary definitions for unwholesome


  1. detrimental to physical or mental healthan unwholesome climate
  2. morally harmful or depravedunwholesome practices
  3. indicative of illness, esp in appearance
  4. (esp of food) of inferior quality
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Derived Formsunwholesomely, adverbunwholesomeness, 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 unwholesome


c.1200, from un- (1) "not" + wholesome. Cf. Flemish onheylsaem, German unheilsam, Old Norse uheilsamr.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper