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[uhn-hoh-lee] /ʌnˈhoʊ li/
adjective, unholier, unholiest.
not holy; not sacred or hallowed.
impious; sinful; wicked.
Informal. dreadful; ungodly:
They got us out of bed at the unholy hour of three in the morning.
Origin of unholy
before 1000; Middle English; Old English unhālig (cognate with Dutch onheilig, Old Norse ūheilagr). See un-1, holy
Related forms
unholiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for unholy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The look of the renegade was full of unholy triumph, and Henry knew that he was there for the special purpose of exultation.

    The Border Watch Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Woe betide—but, was there ever such a gathering of unclean, unholy humanity?

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • At the sight of his associate's fate Max is stricken with remorse, and tells the story of his unholy compact.

    The Opera R.A. Streatfeild
  • “I can think about both,” was my unholy, time-serving reply.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • He goes up to the unholy heap and takes away two large idols, one under each arm.

    If Lord Dunsany [Dunsany, Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron]
British Dictionary definitions for unholy


adjective -lier, -liest
not holy or sacred
immoral or depraved
(informal) outrageous or unnatural: an unholy alliance
Derived Forms
unholiness, 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 unholy

Old English unhalig, "impious, profane, wicked," from un- (1) "not" + halig (see holy). Cf. Middle Dutch onheilich, Old Norse uheilagr, Danish unhellig, Swedish ohelig. In reference to actions, it is attested from late 14c. Colloquial sense of "awful, dreadful" is recorded from 1842.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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