Etymology
Advertisement

unkempt (adj.)

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

updated on January 24, 2018

Advertisement
Advertisement
Definitions of unkempt from WordNet

unkempt (adj.)
not neatly combed;
wild unkempt hair
unkempt (adj.)
not properly maintained or cared for;
an unkempt garden
native vistas and unkempt rambling paths
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.