Unflattering refers to something that portrays a person or thing in an unfavorable, negative, or unattractive light.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Uncomplimentary, critical, unfavorable, disapproving, derogatory, unbecoming, unsuitable, unsympathetic, unappealing, unattractive, displeasing, unflattering, insulting, rude, impolite, offensive, opprobrious, disparaging, degrading, etc.


Complimentary, favorable, flattering, approbatory, celebrating, laudatory, honoring, praising, uplifting, adulatory, aesthetic, attractive, becoming, fetching, lovely, pleasing, presentable, seemly, etc.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun None
Verb None
Adjective unflattering
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The dress was unflattering and made her look frumpy and shapeless.

  • I found the review to be unflattering and it left me feeling discouraged about my work.

  • The lighting in the dressing room was very unflattering and made her complexion appear sallow.

  • The unflattering photograph captured her at an unfortunate angle, emphasizing every wrinkle and blemish, a stark reminder that the lens of the camera can be unforgiving, challenging her self-image and prompting her to embrace self-acceptance and redefine beauty on her own terms.


The adjective unflattering is commonly used to describe something that doesn’t show a person, thing, or situation in a positive or attractive way. The word unflattering is mostly used to express disapproval, criticism, or dissatisfaction with something, and it can be used in a variety of contexts.

The word unflattering is formed from the prefix “un-” which means “not,” and the present participle “flatter,” which means “to praise or compliment excessively.” The word flatter is derived from the Old French flater, which means “to stroke or caress,” and ultimately from the Latin word flattus, which means “stroking or caressing.”

It’s worth noting that unflattering can be used to describe anything that’s not complimentary, including clothing, makeup, hairstyles, artwork, movie reviews, and much more. For example, unflattering clothing can be unappealing, ill-fitting or simply overdone, while unflattering makeup can be too heavy, smudged, or unnatural. Similarly, unflattering artwork can be crude or poorly executed, and an unflattering movie review can be excessively critical or simply negative.

In conclusion, the word unflattering is a versatile adjective that’s commonly used to describe anything that doesn’t present a person, thing, or situation in a favorable or positive light. It’s a useful word when expressing disapproval or criticism and can be used in various contexts. Its prefix, “un-” and root “flatter” give it a clear meaning that’s easy to understand, making it a valuable addition to anyone’s vocabulary.