Also found in: Thesaurus.


1. Unskilled; inexpert.
2. Obsolete Ignorant.

un·skill′ful·ly adv.
un′skill′ful·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.


(ʌnˈskɪl fəl)

not skillful; clumsy or bungling; inept.
Also, esp. Brit.,un•skil′ful.
un•skill′ful•ly, adv.
un•skill′ful•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.unskillful - poorly doneunskillful - poorly done; "a botchy piece of work"; "it was an unskillful attempt"
unskilled - not having or showing or requiring special skill or proficiency; "unskilled in the art of rhetoric"; "an enthusiastic but unskillful mountain climber"; "unskilled labor"; "workers in unskilled occupations are finding fewer and fewer job opportunities"; "unskilled workmanship"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. Lacking the qualities, as efficiency or skill, required to produce desired results:
2. Lacking the required professional skill:
3. Clumsily lacking in the ability to do or perform:
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 ?
If we get rid of them, we shall fall into the hands of unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double death: for you may be assured, that though all the Butchers should perish, yet will men never want beef."
This policy has not always been over-honest, it must be allowed, but it has never been unskillful. Now that which is proposed to your majesty is dishonest and unskillful at the same time."
It was doubtless wrong, from a family point of view, to sign a treaty with a man who had cut off the head of the king your father's brother-in-law, and to contract an alliance with a parliament which they call yonder the Rump Parliament; it was unbecoming, I acknowledge, but it was not unskillful from a political point of view, since, thanks to that treaty, I saved your majesty, then a minor, the trouble and danger of a foreign war, which the Fronde -- you remember the Fronde sire?" -- the young king hung his head -- "which the Fronde might have fatally complicated.
I am afraid that what was first done was unskillful, if not worse than useless.
Even the experts in foreign policy would jitter to walk on that tight rope of complicated and contradicting interests while keeping balance and maintaining neutrality, but in unskillful hands like ours that rope will only become a noose around our necks.
This unskillful step was received as a scandal, especially by the right wing electorate in Turkey.
One of the most common metaphors of the mind drawn from the Upanishads is of the senses as the wild horses that pull the person out of their centre and into unskillful and fluctuating states of mind.
The standing committee, studying pricing for printing jobs and stewardship of the society's plates, stressed in July 1820 the importance of not committing the society's investments to "unskillful or careless workmen" because more injury would be sustained to the society than would be made up by cheaper printing costs.
They consider the reported size of the enemy fleet bound for Rhodes, wondering if the numbers are "disproportioned." They ponder if the intelligence they have in hand is enough "to judgment"; they estimate the probable margin of "error." They speculate as to whether the Rhodesian "preparation" is an "unskillful" mistake, or else shrewd diversionary theater--"a pageant / To keep us in false gaze" (1.3.2, 9, 18-19, 27).
I knew that, on top of initial sadness or fear, unskillful "comforting" words can bring feelings of being misunderstood, judged, or lectured to.
This point added by next findings of unskillful librarians to accomplish their responsibilities.
In that case, Griggs's executrix alleged that, while Griggs was on active duty, he died "because of negligent and unskillful medical treatment by army surgeons." Id.