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[uhn-set-l] /ʌnˈsɛt l/
verb (used with object), unsettled, unsettling.
to alter from a settled state; cause to be no longer firmly fixed or established; render unstable; disturb:
Violence unsettled the government.
to shake or weaken (beliefs, feelings, etc.); cause doubt or uncertainty about:
doubts unsettling his religious convictions.
to vex or agitate the mind or emotions of; upset; discompose:
The quarrel unsettled her.
verb (used without object), unsettled, unsettling.
to become unfixed or disordered.
Origin of unsettle
1535-45; un-2 + settle1
2. upset, disturb, unbalance, confuse, disconcert. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unsettling
  • If you think it's unsettling to read, try being the one that wrote it.
  • However, even those without such biases would likely find this particular bird unsettling.
  • His hypocrisy regarding fossil fuel use is unbelievable and his increasingly erratic behavior is unsettling.
  • Lightning is a particularly unsettling product of bad weather.
  • The display next to it offers a more unsettling view of the damage that a new predator might bring.
  • There is something unsettling about applying psychology to philosophy.
  • Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the picture is a little unsettling.
  • Instead of finding that reality unsettling, you should view it as liberating.
  • Yet, these unsettling events will occur in criterion-referenced educational settings where effort is largely irrelevant.
  • He had been drinking heavily since that unsettling call.
British Dictionary definitions for unsettling


(usually transitive) to change or become changed from a fixed or settled condition
(transitive) to confuse or agitate (emotions, the mind, etc)
Derived Forms
unsettlement, 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 unsettling



1590s, "undo from a fixed position, from un- (2) + settle (v.). Of the mind, feelings, etc., attested from 1640s. Unsettled "not peaceful, not firmly established" is recorded from 1590s. Meaning "not occupied by settlers" is attested from 1724. Related: Unsettled; unsettling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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