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[uhn-fair] /ʌnˈfɛər/
not fair; not conforming to approved standards, as of justice, honesty, or ethics:
an unfair law; an unfair wage policy.
disproportionate; undue; beyond what is proper or fitting:
an unfair share.
Origin of unfair
before 900; 1705-15 for def 1; Middle English: uncomely, ugly; Old English unfæger; cognate with Old Norse ūfagr. See un-1, fair1
Related forms
unfairly, adverb
unfairness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unfair
  • He got a ton of publicity for his tirade, a reward that was pretty unfair in and of itself.
  • Wait lists are another unfair practice which needs to be examined carefully.
  • Without these conditions, trade quickly becomes inefficient and unfair.
  • Opponents to globalization blame free trade for unfair working conditions.
  • Work from high school students is screened alongside that of more experienced animators, inviting unfair comparisons.
  • That's unfair precisely because people aren't given the chance to decide for themselves.
  • And the new cry from the hired hands of the rich is that it's unfair that the wealthy should pay such a large share of taxes.
  • It is difficult to piece together the key elements of the bureaucratic train wreck that led to this unfair decision.
  • After all it's unfair for pack leaders to create this type of excited greeting and then expect him to know the difference later.
  • The individual who received an unfair distribution refused to take part in the study.
British Dictionary definitions for unfair


characterized by inequality or injustice
dishonest or unethical
Derived Forms
unfairly, adverb
unfairness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for unfair

Old English unfægr "unlovely," from un- (1) "not" + fair. Cf. Old Norse ufagr, Gothic unfagrs. Meaning "wicked, evil, bad" is recorded from c.1300. Sense of "not equitable, unjust" is first recorded 1713. Related: Unfairly; unfairness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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