I came across "untactful" in a story and wondered when it was first used and how it came to be commonly used in speech. I've always used "tactless".

I checked a lot of dictionaries with no results. I searched for "origins of untactful" and "etymology of untactful" with no results.

I had no trouble finding the information about "tactless". It was first recorded in 1840–50 but had no luck with "untactful".

Google Stats - infers that "untactful" is new:

  • "untactful" = About 547,000 results
  • "tactless" = About 1,480,000 results



1 Answer 1


The OED lists early usage of untactful as 1860:

1860 E. Eden Semi-attached Couple I. xx. 181 When her vanity was in a state of mortification, she became unusually untactful.

But its usage is in the bottom 10% of word usage!

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