Also found in: Thesaurus.


1. Distasteful or disagreeable: an unsavory task.
2. Not savory: an unsavory meal.
3. Morally offensive: an unsavory scandal.

un·sa′vor·i·ly adv.
un·sa′vor·i·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ʌnˈseɪ və ri)

1. not savory; tasteless or insipid: an unsavory meal.
2. unpleasant in taste or smell; distasteful.
3. unappealing or disagreeable, as a pursuit or task.
4. socially or morally objectionable or offensive: an unsavory past.
Also, esp. Brit.,un•sa′vour•y.
un•sa′vor•i•ly, adv.
un•sa′vor•i•ness, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.unsavory - morally offensiveunsavory - morally offensive; "an unsavory reputation"; "an unsavory scandal"
savory, savoury - morally wholesome or acceptable; "a past that was scarcely savory"
2.unsavory - not pleasing in odor or tasteunsavory - not pleasing in odor or taste  
unpalatable - not pleasant or acceptable to the taste or mind; "an unpalatable meal"; "unpalatable truths"; "unpalatable behavior"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. Lacking an appetizing flavor:
2. So unpleasant in flavor as to be inedible:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
His reputation is most unsavory. But it won't help you in the least.
"Why did you enter this place of unsavory reputations?" was asked him.
Sabor proved unsavory eating even to Tarzan of the Apes, but hunger served as a most efficacious disguise to toughness and rank taste, and ere long, with well-filled stomach, the ape-man was ready to sleep again.
Again partaking of a few mouthfuls of the unsavory flesh of Ska, the vulture, the ape-man arose with something of his old force and set out with steady gait toward the hills of promise rising alluringly ahead.
For a long, hot, gaunt month he and his little troop had scoured the places of the desert waste in search of a band of marauders to the sin-stained account of which were charged innumerable thefts of camels, horses, and goats, as well as murders enough to have sent the whole unsavory gang to the guillotine several times over.
It may well be conceived, what an unsavory odor such a mass must exhale; worse than an Assyrian city in the plague, when the living are incompetent to bury the departed.
Marking all this, Stubb argued well for his scheme, and turning to the Guernsey-man had a little chat with him, during which the stranger mate expressed his detestation of his Captain as a conceited ignoramus, who had brought them all into so unsavory and unprofitable a pickle.
Pursuing his course, he entered the labyrinth of streets which led, in that quarter of East London, to the unsavory neighborhood of the river-side.
Private excavations are taking place--if our readers will pardon us the unsavory allusion--at the dust-heap, of all places in the world!
The austere stronghold, notwithstanding its repellent exterior and unsavory reputation, always extended a warm welcome to the kindly, genial priest; not alone because of the deep friendship which the master of Torn felt for the good father, but through the personal charm, and lovableness of the holy man's nature, which shone alike on saint and sinner.
It is also unsavory, undemocratic, unconstitutional.
Summary: New Delhi (India), Aug 20 (ANI): Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday urged the citizens to work collectively to defeat the 'unsavory trends' of the communal forces that are responsible for polarisation and violent crimes in the country.