1570s, from un- (1) "not" + kempt "well-combed, neat," from variant pp. of O.E. cemban "to comb," from P.Gmc. *kambijan, from *kamb- "comb" (see comb). Form unkembed iss recorded from late 14c. The verb kemb is rare after 1400s, but its negative pp. form endures.