Definition of unreadable in US English:



  • 1Not clear enough to read; illegible.

    • ‘The nurse replied, flipping through some paperwork and scribbling in that unreadable language of health care providers.’
    • ‘Teesside Magistrates Court was told that trading standards officials also found foods whose use-by dates were either unreadable or non-existent.’
    • ‘You have no doubt seen people whose signatures are nothing more than scribbles, yet even those unreadable scratch marks are valid.’
    • ‘Scribbling an unreadable note that I attach to the fridge, I glance about for my wrist guards.’
    • ‘Physicians are often accused of having unreadable handwriting.’
    • ‘The pages were scrawled with unreadable shorthand, quotes he would later unsuccessfully attempt to decipher, let alone match to any of the news stories he was supposed to be working on.’
    • ‘These problems do not make African Rock Art unreadable, however, and the writing is clear enough for nonspecialists to understand.’
    • ‘The type on the map I was using was completely unreadable, and forced me to do the unthinkable: pull over at a gas station and ask for directions!’
    • ‘He accessed the file - unreadable junk, nothing but hieroglyphics and squiggles on the screen.’
    • ‘Some retailers have only grudgingly implemented it, in some cases by using a typeface which is small enough to be unreadable.’
    • ‘Her handwriting is chicken scratches, illegible and unreadable.’
    • ‘Trouble was, the bulk of the collection was unreadable: blackened, scorched and damaged, ancient treasures beyond the reach of human eyes.’
    • ‘But it's the language I never found out how to read… it's… unreadable to me.’
    • ‘His attention caught by the news, Skylar glanced up from his unreadable handwriting and stared at the front of the classroom, knowing who would be standing half hidden behind the teacher.’
    • ‘An unreadable scrawl that took hours to decipher.’
    • ‘Handwritten communications that are unreadable are annoying and worthless.’
    • ‘The man held up his warrant card, even though the laser reflections from shiny clear plastic made it quite unreadable.’
    • ‘The door was open, there were some books pilled up in his desk, along with messy papers filled with unreadable handwriting.’
    • ‘But the Aston has its own annoying points, like the pretentiously styled dashboard on which the buttons are fiddly and the digital displays are unreadable in direct sunlight.’
    • ‘He has served papers upon the Crown in which his address has been either obscured or certainly made unreadable.’
    illegible, hard to read, indecipherable, unintelligible
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    1. 1.1 Too dull or difficult to be worth reading.
      ‘a heavy, unreadable novel’
      • ‘Some heralded his Soul Mountain as a great novel, but others found it unreadable.’
      • ‘Among the 20th century authors whose works I find mostly unreadable are two who inspire many people with a devotion and respect which are, to me, quite inexplicable.’
      • ‘So why was I reading Kristof if I've already said he's unreadable?’
      • ‘If you haven't learnt the craft and you produce a lot of unreadable garbage then people won't read you.’
      • ‘It is widely agreed in publishing circles (on the basis of countless years of experience) that many of these manuscripts will be unreadable, unpublishable junk.’
      • ‘In fact, the entire story was disjointed and unreadable.’
      • ‘In fact there are very good reasons why unread - or more or less unreadable - art critics continue to write regular columns for reputable newspapers.’
      • ‘One is that no matter what the book is, no matter how dumb or bad or painful or unreadable it may seem to you, there is going to be someone out there who will like it and get pleasure from it, and you need to respect that.’
      • ‘I find Woodward's breathless you-are-there insider accounts written in his trademark leaden prose to be virtually unreadable.’
      • ‘Other contributors have written in such a boring way that their work is virtually unreadable.’
      • ‘Although the young invited audience had been given a copy of the constitution, a large majority confessed that it was unreadable and incomprehensible.’
      • ‘That novel, about two competing writers, one a vacuous success, the other a brilliant but unreadable failure, has a lot to say about the literary life, both the successful and unsuccessful kind.’
      • ‘First, they began to lecture about, and write about, stuff that everyone else found pretty much unreadable and dead boring.’
      • ‘It's not that hard to make money - and it is worth it if it frees you from a poisonous environment which is turning your output into unreadable junk which has no value.’
      • ‘The man is so full of hatred, vitriol and self-loathing that it is all beginning to seep into his columns so much that they have become almost unreadable.’
      • ‘Despite the fact that it contains some interesting arguments about theatre's role in a society driven mad by the pursuit of wealth and power, it is, unfortunately, almost unreadable.’
      • ‘… Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.’
      • ‘I found it by turns, unreadable, incoherent, breathtakingly dull, or positively disturbing.’
      • ‘It seems odd that a poet so keen - perhaps even desperate - to reach across time, to provide us with such realism, should do so by writing wilfully unreadable poems.’
      • ‘With the gutter, I feel at least it has a usefulness even at its lowest level, at least it's entertaining; at its lowest level, literary stuff is unreadable.’
      dull, tedious, boring, uninteresting, dry, dry as dust, as dry as dust, wearisome, difficult, heavy-going, heavy, turgid
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  • 2(of data or a storage medium or device) not capable of being processed or interpreted by a computer or other electronic device.

    • ‘The file shredder's mission is to scramble files before deletion, making them garbled and unreadable.’
    • ‘For example, dust on the recording surface can result in portions of the data that are unreadable.’
    • ‘Email encryption wraps a secure layer around messages and attachments, making them unreadable by anyone except their intended recipients.’
    • ‘You state you want to make your "personal information" unreadable.’
    • ‘The secret surfing programs also add a layer of encryption, ensuring that messages are scrambled in transit and are thus unreadable.’
    • ‘Sometimes this may even result in unreadable output.’
    • ‘And I ended up losing the Amstrad disk, which was some weird, unreadable proprietary brand anyway.’
    • ‘While the backup tape existed (or so they said) it was apparently unreadable.’
    • ‘Let me know if it's unreadable in any browsers.’
    • ‘The result of these techniques is to split spam words that make them unreadable by dictionary-based scanning tools.’
    • ‘All 8 Black Boxes were supposedly destroyed or haven't been recovered or were unreadable.’
    • ‘Then, the system starts doing some file transfers, and the display becomes completely unreadable.’