If something is unpromising, it doesn't show signs that it's going to be successful, beneficial, or fun. An unpromising school dance has bad music and boring snacks.

An unpromising TV series seems dull from the first episode, and an unpromising job interview is awkward and uncomfortable. Just because something's unpromising doesn't mean it won't work out well in the end, only that it seems unlikely. After an unpromising start as the sickly runt of the litter, your dog may end up growing into a 100-pound goofball who lives a long, happy life.

Definitions of unpromising
  1. adjective
    unlikely to bring about favorable results or enjoyment
    “faced an unpromising task”
    “music for unpromising combinations of instruments”
    inauspicious, unfortunate
    not auspicious; boding ill
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week