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[uhn-kleen] /ʌnˈklin/
adjective, uncleaner, uncleanest.
not clean; dirty.
morally impure; evil; vile:
unclean thoughts.
Chiefly Biblical. having a physical or moral blemish so as to make impure according to the laws, especially the dietary or ceremonial laws:
an unclean animal; unclean persons.
Origin of unclean
before 900; Middle English unclene, Old English unclǣne. See un-1, clean
Related forms
uncleanness, noun
1. soiled, filthy. 2. base, unchaste, sinful, corrupt, polluted. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for unclean
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He who mixes with unclean things becomes unclean himself; he whose associations are pure becomes more holy with each day.

  • If it is a good power, the thing is holy; if a bad power, it is unclean.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Certain physiological processes come to have for him an unclean flavour which is yet perniciously attractive.

    The Nervous Child Hector Charles Cameron
  • They purify the soul from the unclean contact with the body and from the dominion of death.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • I did not drink wine; I was not allowed to smoke at home, because it was an unclean habit.

  • Ah, that is the vesper bell, as they call it—the unclean beasts that they are!

    Earl Hubert's Daughter Emily Sarah Holt
  • Behind her walked a proud gentleman, a lordly gentleman who elbowed his way through the throng as one who touches the unclean.

    In the Heart of a Fool William Allen White
  • Did God, then, permit man to use also the unclean animals for food?

  • On the contrary, they are described as unclean Pagans, who ate all sorts of meat, and some of it raw.

    The Ethnology of Europe Robert Gordon Latham
British Dictionary definitions for unclean


lacking moral, spiritual, ritual, or physical cleanliness
Derived Forms
uncleanness, 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
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Word Origin and History for unclean

Old English unclæne, "morally impure, defiled, unfit for food," from un- (1) "not" + clean (adj.). Literal sense of "dirty" is recorded from mid-13c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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