One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Excessively flattering or ingratiating; oily.‘he seemed anxious to please but not in an unctuous way’
sycophantic, ingratiating, obsequious, fawning, servile, self-abasing, grovelling, subservient, wheedling, cajoling, crawling, cringing, uriah heepish, humble, toadying, hypocritical, insincere, flattering, adulatory, honey-tongued, silver-tongued, gushing, effusive, suave, urbane, glib, smooth, smooth-tongued, smooth-spoken, smooth-talking, slick, slippery, saccharineView synonyms
- ‘Bob, by the way, only casually mentioned his war record, though there is still something unctuous even about that.’
- ‘The ending of the story is a bit of a cop-out as the unctuous game show host invokes a hitherto-unknown rule and claims the date with Jennifer for himself.’
- ‘But as so often, it seems even charitable works nowadays have to double as celebrity photo opportunities as the rich and famous parade their unctuous concern for the less fortunate.’
- ‘Roast them until they're nearly burnt, then cover with cold water and simmer for up to two days (if you want to make a truly unctuous sauce there are no shortcuts).’
- ‘If anyone in history has ever emitted a bigger pile of oozing, sanctimonious, unctuous, fetid, perfidious, malodorous offal than this, I'd like to know what it could possibly be.’
- ‘‘Politics is not the easiest game in the world,’ the environment minister explained in that unctuous voice that brings to mind a parish priest delivering a sermon.’
- ‘He is as unctuous as they come and as slippery and lethal as a herd of rattlers in a barrel of oil.’
- ‘The service at lunch was also very good, but a bit unctuous - in a restaurant like this, I don't really need to be told by the server that my choice of the ravioli is a fabulous one.’
- ‘Another commentator derided the presenter's ‘mixture of solicitous concern, unctuous charm and glib moralising.’’
- ‘I wouldn't waste two seconds listening to that unctuous socialite.’
- ‘I'm sure some unctuous berk could generate some glittering generalities about freedom, democracy, human rights and the rest - but what's specifically British about those?’
- ‘The lousy, unctuous toad is going to be investigated.’
- ‘I would have liked more of the unctuous Mowbray.’
- ‘It would be impossible to walk by without succumbing to a tub of mellow, unctuous olives, or a modestly priced, sit-down lunch (as opposed to leftovers in the fridge).’
- ‘It has nice touches such as the Bath Butler service, which delivers unctuous oils, chocolate-covered strawberries and a glass of champagne to your bath-side for a reasonable price.’
- ‘A home-made coleslaw, full of organic vegetables and coated in unctuous mayonnaise, accompanies a baked potato admirably, the slurpy dressing removing the need for any added butter.’
- ‘The excruciatingly unctuous cable telemarketer forgot to mention, however, that the two movie channels, which come in on 500 and 400, could only be received through a descrambler.’
- ‘The first moment after a disaster, we do not need news anchors unchained to any news, no shred of useful information, but plenty of unctuous sympathy.’
- ‘Pete is one of those tiresome, unctuous types who thinks he's a wit and is half-right.’
- ‘She was even less pleasant than the metallic voice who caressed me with his unctuous assurances… ‘Your call is important to us.’’
2(chiefly of minerals) having a greasy or soapy feel.
greasy, oily, fat, oleaginousView synonyms
- ‘Still, the lure of any luxury item - whether it be Beluga caviar, Dom Perignon champagne or an unctuous blob of sea-urchin roe - springs partly from its cost.’
Late Middle English (in the sense ‘greasy’): from medieval Latin unctuosus, from Latin unctus ‘anointing’, from unguere ‘anoint’.
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