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[uhn-ee-kwuh l] /ʌnˈi kwəl/
not equal; not of the same quantity, quality, value, rank, ability, etc.:
People are unequal in their capacities.
not adequate, as in amount, power, ability, etc. (usually followed by to):
strength unequal to the task.
not evenly proportioned or balanced; not having the parts alike or symmetrical:
an unequal leaf.
uneven or variable in character, quality, etc.
Obsolete. inequitable; unfair; unjust.
unequals, persons or things not equal to each other:
a contest between obvious unequals.
Origin of unequal
1525-35; un-1 + equal
Related forms
unequally, adverb
unequalness, noun
subunequal, adjective
subunequally, adverb
subunequalness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unequal
  • It will be impossible to sustain the unequal land distribution as the population increases.
  • Part of the problem, or reason for conflict, is that there is unequal distribution of the planet's usable freshwater.
  • The unequal heating gives us different temperatures, winds, and ocean currents.
  • Weather is caused by the unequal heating and cooling from the sun over different places.
  • Plus there are many aspects to environmental impact that are unequal and can never be equalized.
  • The unequal distribution of wealth is a serious yet extremely disturbing global problem, and food is no exception.
  • Even with random sampling, people in the population have unequal probabilities of inclusion in the survey.
  • For every deletion, something that happens during an unequal recombination or crossing over, a duplication occurs.
  • After all, there's no logical reason to have unequal weights for different points on the globe.
  • When the box is accelerated, then there is unequal photon pressure on the reflecting walls of the box.
British Dictionary definitions for unequal


not equal in quantity, size, rank, value, etc
(foll by to) inadequate; insufficient
not evenly balanced
(of character, quality, etc) irregular; varying; inconsistent
(of a contest, etc) having competitors of different ability
(obsolete) unjust
Derived Forms
unequally, adverb
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 unequal

1530s, "unjust, unfair," from un- (1) "not" + equal (adj.). Meaning "not the same in amount, size, quality, etc." is recorded from 1560s (inequal in this sense is from late 14c.). Sense of "inadequate, insufficient" (to some task) is attested from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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