Spelling Tips: Impolite or Unpolite? | Proofed’s Writing Tips

Spelling Tips: Impolite or Unpolite?

“Impolite” and “unpolite” are two words with the same meaning. And you can find both in at least some dictionaries, so does it matter which of these words you use in your writing? In this post, we explain why it probably does.

What Do These Words Mean?

“Impolite” is an adjective that means “lacking good manners” or “rude”:

It is impolite to interrupt when someone is talking.

I stopped going to the gym, because the staff were so impolite.

The word “unpolite” has exactly the same meaning. This is because both words are formed from the adjective “polite,” which means “showing consideration for another person,” with the addition of a negative prefix (either “im-” or “un-“).

So, what is the difference between these terms? Ultimately, “impolite” is the standard term in modern English, while “unpolite” is fairly old-fashioned.

Is Unpolite Still Used?

At one time, “unpolite” was more common than ‘impolite’. But over the last 200 years, “impolite” has become the preferred spellling, and “unpolite” is now rare.

The changing usage of these words.

This change does make sense, though, since it matches the spelling of similar words, since adjectives that begin with “m” or “p” usually take the prefix “im-” (e.g., modest becomes immodest and possible becomes impossible). 

Summary: Impolite or Unpolite?

“Impolite” and “unpolite” mean the same thing. But even though it can still be found in some dictionaries, the word “unpolite” has almost become obsolete. For this reason, it is best to avoid using it in your writing and opt for “impolite” instead.

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