"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[uhn-kempt] /ʌnˈkɛmpt/
not combed:
unkempt hair.
uncared-for or neglected; disheveled; messy:
unkempt clothes; an unkempt lawn.
unpolished; rough; crude.
Origin of unkempt
1590-1600; variant of unkembed; see un-1, kempt
Related forms
unkemptly, adverb
unkemptness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unkempt
  • Our clothes were in rags, our appearance unkempt and forbidding.
  • Unlike the surrounding cow pastures, which are so well groomed they could be golf greens, these woods are unkempt.
  • His hair is long and unkempt, his face and body emaciated.
  • unkempt hair, yelling, and standing up and shaking their fists.
  • Now her hair is unkempt, glued to her face with sweat.
  • His hair, which is white, often hangs over his eyes in unkempt bangs.
  • He apologized for his unkempt appearance, and for his inability to offer me coffee or tea.
  • One reviewer lauds the hotel staff's southern hospitality, while another reviewer calls the place old and unkempt.
  • No one looks his or her best, with the actors often oddly unkempt and the cinematography unflattering and dim.
  • Staff furloughs and service cuts have meant less instruction time and unkempt facilities.
British Dictionary definitions for unkempt


(of the hair) uncombed; dishevelled
ungroomed; slovenly: unkempt appearance
(archaic) crude or coarse
Derived Forms
unkemptly, adverb
unkemptness, noun
Word Origin
Old English uncembed; from un-1 + cembed, past participle of cemban to comb; related to Old Saxon kembian, Old High German kemben to comb
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 unkempt

1570s, from un- (1) "not" + kempt "well-combed, neat," from variant past participle of Old English cemban "to comb," from Proto-Germanic *kambijan, from *kamb- "comb" (see comb). Form unkembed is recorded from late 14c. The verb kemb is rare after 1400s, but its negative past participle form endures.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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