If something's unfair, it's not just or equitable. If your brother carelessly broke your mother's favorite vase, it would be unfair for her to punish both of you.

We all know that when things are fair, they're unbiased or they follow the rules. Unfair is the exact opposite, so an unfair ruling in court isn't based on principles of justice, and an unfair grade on your book report might be due to your English teacher's bias against graphic novels. The original meaning of this adjective was "not lovely" or "hideous," from the "beautiful" definition of fair.

Definitions of unfair

adj not fair; marked by injustice or partiality or deception

“used unfair methods”
“it was an unfair trial”
“took an unfair advantage”
below the belt
disregarding the rules (from the notion of an illegal low blow in boxing)
cheating, dirty, foul, unsporting, unsportsmanlike
violating accepted standards or rules
brutally unfair or harsh
violating principles of justice
showing favoritism
fair, just
free from favoritism or self-interest or bias or deception; conforming with established standards or rules
antimonopoly, antitrust
of laws and regulations; designed to protect trade and commerce from unfair business practices
clean, sporting, sportsmanlike, sporty
exhibiting or calling for sportsmanship or fair play
of a person; just and impartial; not prejudiced
just and honest
used especially of what is legally or ethically right or proper or fitting
showing lack of favoritism
reasonable, sensible
showing reason or sound judgment
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