Definition of unwritten in US English:



  • 1Not recorded in writing.

    ‘documenting unwritten languages’
    • ‘The world of the street child and juvenile pickpocket was organized, in part, around an unwritten, oral culture.’
    • ‘Cajun French, for the most part, is a spoken, unwritten language filled with colloquialisms and slang.’
    • ‘A tradition of oral literature has been crucial to the survival of the Hopi Way because the language has remained unwritten until recent years.’
    • ‘But while the Latin American writer has used magic realism to give epic form to the unwritten history of his nation, his ambitions are more personal and private.’
    • ‘For Massie, history is full of unlit corners and unwritten characters.’
    • ‘Two thirds of the world's languages are still unwritten, and there are only several hundred different writing systems.’
    • ‘That seems logical but there is a catch: the social code in the officers' mess of a regiment such as the Grenadier Guards is unwritten and so nebulous that it takes an insider to make any sense of it.’
    • ‘He thought of Walt Whitman, of course, but he found this power in short supply in American art; he found its history largely unwritten.’
    • ‘The enormity of Cash's legacy can be assessed by the fact that though the Man in Black wrote two autobiographies, much of his story was left unwritten.’
    • ‘The book has been welcomed in the local media as a contribution to the largely unwritten history of Dubai's stunning transformation over the last three decades into a hip city of skyscrapers, commerce and tourism.’
    • ‘As a society within a society, the Gitanos of Spain have maintained their art as a connection to an unwritten past and a way to share it with others.’
    • ‘That poses no problem for Catholic faith, since it freely acknowledges that revelation is handed on to us in both written and unwritten form.’
    • ‘They are based on loyalty to friends, distrust of authority, a history that is largely unwritten and a rigorous sense of fair play.’
    • ‘Because the language was unique and unwritten, it would prove impossible for the Japanese to decipher.’
    • ‘With the fragmentation of extended Indian families and tribes, the unwritten knowledge of elders that was once a counterweight to Anglo hegemony is in danger of being lost.’
    • ‘Diné had the advantages of being naturally complex and virtually unwritten: the first, incomplete Diné alphabet was developed in the early 20th century.’
    • ‘Unlike its American and Jamaican counterpart, the history of Black Britain's musical heritage has so far gone unwritten.’
    • ‘Are you saying that it's history and therefore it's an unwritten history, we need to know all the truth and therefore that justifies this personal exposure?’
    • ‘Correspondingly, plants have been used through unwritten and written history as a source of medicines, fragrances, spices, and colourants.’
    • ‘As you have guessed, I am passionate about New Zealand's largely unwritten political history.’
    1. 1.1 (especially of a law) resting originally on custom or judicial decision rather than on statute.
      ‘an unwritten constitution’
      • ‘The distraught father killed him, and used the unwritten law as his defense.’
      • ‘Indeed, this rationale would render the unwritten doctrine of Marbury v. Madison itself invalid in cases involving the 21st Amendment.’
      • ‘We will come to that in the later arguments but this is all in the realm of the unwritten law.’
      • ‘The current, unwritten, interpretation is that to qualify, individuals should have investments in shares or property amounting to a minimum of 3,500 leva.’
      • ‘Common Law was unwritten and represented the custom of the people.’
      • ‘They only saw their duty to resist oppression, to protect the weak, to vindicate the profound but unwritten Law of Nations, to testify to truth and justice and mercy among men.’
    2. 1.2 (of a convention) understood and accepted by everyone, although not formally established.
      ‘the unwritten rules of social life’
      • ‘There are unwritten conventions governing professional bar conduct.’
      • ‘Club rugby in New Zealand is played at breathtaking pace, and there is an unwritten code that anyone taking cheap shots will be dealt with by the opposition, and not by the referee.’
      • ‘It is a show about potential catastrophe and a lesson in how effortlessly any of us can slip from an unwritten code of human ethics into the self-perpetuating intoxication of brutality.’
      • ‘It was founded in order to fight the unwritten law on the job market that discriminates against older employees.’
      • ‘In the unwritten code of the game, the players are to assume a certain level of risk and to take care of issues themselves without any outside help.’
      • ‘The Navajo's unwritten credo of adaptation is reflected in their weaving, from the use of wool obtained from sheep introduced by the Spanish, to the current use of both hand-spun and commercial wools.’
      • ‘Is there an unwritten code for bloggers that I am unaware of?’
      • ‘Most members of the media follow a code - written or unwritten - that the method and location of suicide is not described, displayed or photographed.’
      • ‘Tough times take a tough hombre who can roll with the punches and fight back when necessary, and isn't afraid of violating some unwritten code by informing us of his opponent's flaws.’
      • ‘Although they're mostly unwritten, there is a canon of gym etiquette that all gym-goers should recognize.’
      • ‘Some researchers talk about a psychological contract that we have with our employer which includes the unspoken and unwritten expectations that employers and employees have of each other.’
      • ‘Frontline police have been telling the Herald since last year that there was an unwritten message not to target gangs and drug labs because dealing with the labs was difficult and made crime statistics look bad.’
      • ‘Although official segregation was outlawed in the last century, in many respects it still exists in an unwritten, unspoken form.’
      • ‘Citi's actions weren't illegal, but broke an unwritten understanding not to whipsaw markets or take advantage of the thin summer trading.’
      • ‘Although ‘liaisons’ are not officially designated, the role is part of an honored, unwritten pact going back more than 100 years.’
      • ‘The unwritten societal ‘obligation’ that women must stay at home and men must come first in education, for instance, has left women with a lack of knowledge and thus deprived them of their rights.’
      • ‘Is there an unwritten media rule to promote the dumbed-down and pretentious culture of ‘real life’ TV shows at the expense of our indigenous culture?’
      • ‘Is there some unwritten requirement that when you go to a gig, if you don't have a T-shirt of a band performing, you have to wear another one with some other band in the ‘scene’ on it?’
      • ‘One of the unwritten requirements for referees is comic timing.’
      • ‘The unwritten but universally accepted industry standard for turnover time is 15 minutes.’
      tacit, implicit, unvoiced, silent, implied, taken for granted, accepted, recognized, understood, unrecorded
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