Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[uhngk-choo-uh s] /ˈʌŋk tʃu əs/
characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, especially in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug.
of the nature of or characteristic of an unguent or ointment; oily; greasy.
having an oily or soapy feel, as certain minerals.
Origin of unctuous
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin ūnctuōsus, equivalent to Latin ūnctu(s) act of anointing (ung(uere) to smear, anoint + -tus suffix of v. action) + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
unctuously, adverb
unctuousness, unctuosity
[uhngk-choo-os-i-tee] /ˌʌŋk tʃuˈɒs ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for unctuous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She laughed a rich, unctuous laugh, and stretched her hands to the blaze.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • A voice, which was unctuous and insinuative, emanated from the figure.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • "I haven't the slightest doubt of it," Bobby responded, with unctuous emphasis.

    The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray
  • All this came out of her like an unctuous trickle of some acrid oil.

    The Arrow of Gold Joseph Conrad
  • "The member is unduly excited," replied the chairman, in his most unctuous tones.

    A Woman for Mayor Helen M. Winslow
  • It had an earthy, insipid taste, and is described as "unctuous."

    The Book of the Damned Charles Fort
  • "Good-evening, Marta," boomed the clergyman's unctuous tones.

British Dictionary definitions for unctuous


slippery or greasy
affecting an oily charm
Derived Forms
unctuosity (ˌʌŋktjʊˈɒsɪtɪ), unctuousness, noun
unctuously, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin unctuōsus, from Latin unctum ointment, from ungere to anoint
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for unctuous

late 14c., "oily," from Old French unctueus, from Medieval Latin unctuosus "greasy," from Latin unctus "act of anointing," from past participle stem of unguere "to anoint" (see unguent).

Figurative sense of "blandly ingratiating" is first recorded 1742, perhaps in part with a literal sense, but in part a sarcastic usage from unction in the meaning "deep spiritual feeling" (1690s), such as comes from having been anointed in the rite of unction. Related: Unctuously; unctuousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
unctuous in Medicine

unctuous unc·tu·ous (ŭngk'chōō-əs)
Containing or composed of oil or fat.

unc'tu·ous·ness or unc'tu·os'i·ty (-ŏs'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for unctuous

Word Value for unctuous

Scrabble Words With Friends