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I cannot see untasty in Oxford dictionary. Also spelling checker tells it is invalid. But in dictionary.com , I see it is a related form of tasty. Please see screenshot below. So is it a valid English word?

enter image description here

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Because people use "untasty", it is a word. It also has a long history, since it dates back to at least 1566 (assuming it only entered the language once):

If, one..drincke nothing but vinaiger, Vntastie and vnfyne.
A medicinable morall

It is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, with the above quote and another from 1733 but the entry hasn't been updated.

It's easy to understand its meaning because it's formed by derivation of an existing word. Given that it's not in many dictionaries, it's probably not very popular. In any case there are plenty of widely-used alternatives: yucky, gross, disgusting, etc. However, that isn't to say it's not used at all. A quick search brings up many results of it being used recently in publications:

However, there are some limitations to this intuition, depending on the extent to which healthy food actually is considered untasty [...]
Affective Determinants of Health Behavior

No one wants to eat a food that is untasty or spoiled. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the spiritual bread; and no bacteria can destroy it. For the spiritual bread is everlasting, and can never be untasty or spoiled [...]
Main highway to God's kingdom

Three or four untasty-looking pumpkins came falling down with the vines.
Twenty-four Eyes

After sampling both, my own judgment is that pitcher-plant water is generally less untasty than bog water, but that the likelihood of protozoan presence in the pitchers would give preference, for safety's sake (should the need arise), to relatively plankton-populated bog waters.
Wildflowers of the Eastern United States: An Introduction to Common Species

For many years, he has fed his pigs the food left over from the local university cafeteria, which is known to be low in protein, deficient in vitamins, and downright untasty.
Loose-leaf Version for Genetics Essentials: Concepts and Connections

  • It's only a subjective "word" (currently) in a particular dialect where it's used—and that's not really a good objective definition. Most people would accept this statement this as an objective statement if it were included in a commonly accepted dictionary (in a non-archaic sense). – Jason Bassford Oct 4 '18 at 0:41
  • @JasonBassford I don't see evidence that it's only used in a specific dialect. I found examples from both the US and the UK, for example. – Laurel Oct 4 '18 at 0:46
  • Sunsational and Funtastic are other non-words that would be like "untasty". Just because you can find them in a google search does not make them valid English words. Have you HONESTLY heard of ANY of these texts you have quoted? Are ANY of them from this century? – wetcircuit Oct 4 '18 at 10:44
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    @wetcircuit All of the quotes except for the first one are from this century, most of those are from the last 10 years, and 1 is from this year. I haven’t heard of them before but that’s normal for this type of answer. Anyway there’s nothing special about these examples. There are plenty of other examples I could have quoted. – Laurel Oct 4 '18 at 15:29
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Untasty is not widely in use today, though people would know what you mean if you said it.

Words that mean "untasty" include disgusting (for food that is viscerally terrible), bland (for food that has no no taste at all), or unpalatable (for food that may not be bland or disgusting, but is otherwise undesirable).

Hope this helps.

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    What do you mean by "not officially a word". Whose "office" is responsible for accrediting words? Untasty does at least have an entry in the OED, though a very brief one with only two examples: 1566 T. Drant tr. Horace Medicinable Morall sig. Gv If, one..drincke nothing but vinaiger, Vntastie and vnfyne. a1733 Ld. Binning Lady's Complaint v, in Maidment Ball. (1844) 62 But camblet's an untasty thing. – WS2 Oct 3 '18 at 21:06
  • @WS2 Even if there were an 'official' office for accrediting words, that wouldn't mean that an official accredited string is an actual word. French, whatever you may think of it, has all sorts of unofficial words that are not accredited by its Académie. – Mitch Oct 4 '18 at 16:07
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    @WS2 Edited for better reality. I know that there is no "registry of words" per se, and that words that are in use ARE words. I do not recall hearing untasty in conversation. Ever. But maybe there are pockets of current usage, as cited by Laurel. I can picture using it in writing much more readily than in speech. – Karl Rookey Oct 4 '18 at 17:23
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No, "untasty" is not a valid English word. It is a construct of familiar word-parts like sunsational or funtastic (which no doubt can be found in more recent examples than the obscure centuries-old texts quoted in another answer) so the meaning is understood.

"Untasty" does sound amusing, as if you are being over-polite about something that is horrible – or possibly as if you are from the 17th Century, but it would get a laugh from any native speaker for sounding so wrong.

The valid English word might be:

tasteless, bland, flavorless, uninspired, boring, lacking flavor

If it truly tastes bad, the word might be:

unappetizing, inedible, undigestable

  • This might be a good time for me to remind everyone on this comment thread of our code of conduct: help center – MetaEd Oct 3 '18 at 23:27
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    I think Laurel's first statement "Because people use "untasty", it is a word." settles it (I'd add things like consistently). It is certainly an infrequent word, sounds weird to me and probably so to most people (so 'non-standard'). Probably should not be used in serious newspaper correspondence. But it is still a word. I don't like it any more than you, but for the word 'word' to have any meaning, we probably need to accept 'untasty' as one, as untasteful as that might be. – Mitch Oct 4 '18 at 13:12
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    I don’t see how untasty is anything like sunsational or funtastic. Those two are blends that incorporate existing words by superimposing one over the other (sun + sensational = sun/sational), whereas untasty is simply an adjective that has a completely productive prefix added to it. It’s no different from unable or unwieldy, structurally; it just happens to be much less frequent. It is, actually, very similar to undigestable, which you use in your answer, and which is also a recent coinage. The more common version there is indigestible. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 4 '18 at 16:51
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Seeing as how the OP changed the title to include the word "valid", I'd say that you are arguing against the OP's intent. The question is not whether it passes as a word that has ever been used, but if it is a valid word. Since we are arguing the subjective meaning of "valid" and "word", I see no reason to edit my answer or keep beating a dead horse. You are of course free to use whatever word you like, or write your own answer to the OP's question. – wetcircuit Oct 4 '18 at 17:14
  • My point was that your parallels, funtastic and sunsational, are not in any way parallel. They are a completely unrelated phenomenon which is quite irrelevant to untasty. That doesn’t necessarily make untasty a word (though I agree with Lauren’s answer that there is no reason not to consider it one), but it does make part of your answer irrelevant. It’s also obviously not true that any native speaker would laugh at untasty, given that quite a few of them use it themselves. It doesn’t sound amusing or strange to me at all, as it happens, though I don’t recall hearing it before. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 4 '18 at 17:20

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