Where does the word “unkempt” originate and What does unkempt mean?

The verb of which kempt is the past participle is kemb, “to comb,” and it derives from the Anglo-Saxon cembam and ultimately from the Old Teutonic kembjan.

The only modern survivor of the verb is this form as it appears in the combinations unkempt and well-kempt, but the meanings most often implied in modern usage are, respectively, “ill-groomed, slovenly” and “well-groomed, neat,” rather than the literal meanings of “uncombed” and “neatly combed.”

In all other uses, kemb has been replaced by its descendant, comb.

where does the word unkempt originate and what does unkempt mean
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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.