See more synonyms for unwholesome on Thesaurus.com
  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.

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

Synonyms for unwholesome

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

Examples from the Web for unwholesome

Contemporary Examples of unwholesome

  • In an interview this week, Egeland strongly defended the propriety of delivering aid to unwholesome parts of northern Syria.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Humanitarians Talk to ISIS

    Joshua Hersh

    October 24, 2014

  • Conservatives have spent decades fulminating against a gay conspiracy to promote their unwholesome “agenda” in public schools.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Hannity's Gay Target

    Michelle Goldberg

    October 8, 2009

Historical Examples of unwholesome

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
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper