Definition of untouchable in English:



  • 1Not able or allowed to be touched or affected.

    ‘drug barons who were legally untouchable’
    • ‘If marriage is invincible, indelibly written on the human heart, untouchable or only slightly touched by culture, where do all these fatherless families come from?’
    • ‘It was like reaching back in time and touching the untouchable, the unknowable.’
    • ‘We all know that youths are untouchable, that we're not allowed to defend ourselves and that authority is ridiculed.’
    • ‘It looked ethereal, almost untouchable, and I fingered the silk, let it run between my fingers like water, then folded it up with the rest of my stuff that I would need.’
    • ‘The life that can never be recreated is the invisible, untouchable inner one, which cannot be reproduced even by the most psychoanalytical detective.’
    • ‘If the government really wanted to restore the public trust they should go after execs like those at Adelphia and Enron that betray the public trust by acting like they are above the law, that corporate crime is untouchable.’
    • ‘They are untouchable - nobody is prepared to go to court because they are too intimidated.’
    • ‘They think they are untouchable because excuses are made for their appalling behaviour.’
    • ‘The health service is very politicised in this country which makes it almost untouchable.’
    • ‘He said: ‘Many offenders think that they are untouchable and above the law.’’
    • ‘The order should show that no one is untouchable.’
    • ‘They were arrogant enough to think they were untouchable, but they have been arrested.’
    • ‘From his days as a small-time fence selling stolen goods from Boston's second-hand shop in Leith to the years running guns and stolen vehicles up the coast of east Africa, it appeared that he was untouchable.’
    • ‘Police were today still hunting the weapon used to kill the 6ft, 20-stone criminal, who boasted in a TV documentary that he was untouchable.’
    • ‘The trio was under the impression that they were untouchable and would beat the rap and began to transfer their assets to relatives' modern-day off-shore accounts.’
    • ‘In the streets, they are almost untouchable, but their property is not.’
    • ‘‘It was kind of a wake-up call that we're not untouchable,’ said Logan, who lives in the District.’
    • ‘Indeed, the citizenry's incentive to finger such bad guys isn't particularly strong when the word on the street is that the these people are untouchable.’
    • ‘Protected by his alleged status as a police informer, and until recently by two bodyguards, he has become a Scottish Don Corleone, the feared head of an untouchable empire.’
    impalpable, untouchable, imperceptible to the touch, non-physical, bodiless, incorporeal, unembodied, disembodied, abstract, invisible
    1. 1.1Unable to be matched or rivalled.
      ‘when the band retreat to ambience and minimalism, they are untouchable’
      • ‘They would at the very least hold on to their 13-point lead and with a game in hand over most of their rivals they would be virtually untouchable with just four matches still to play.’
      • ‘Are we now to assume the England rugby team is officially untouchable in the prize-giving context by all except an elite comprising members of the Royal Family, knights of the realm and fellow World Cup winners?’
      • ‘The match started promisingly for Oxford, as Hannah of Oriel was untouchable in the hammer throw, achieving a match record of 37. 24m.’
      • ‘He is one of Cincinnati's top prospects, and was deemed untouchable when the team was negotiating the trade.’
      • ‘While they were untouchable last year, there may be four or five teams chasing Kilkenny's tail this year, each giving their fans a reason to feel optimistic about the summer.’
      • ‘A month or so ago, Arsenal, 49 matches without defeat, looked untouchable.’
      • ‘It was only during the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, when the monarchy was untouchable, that George IV was able to force through the royal building-spree that culminated in Buckingham Palace.’
      • ‘Cast in the role of liberation movement valiantly fighting multiple evils of the apartheid system, the ANC is able to situate itself on the virtually untouchable high moral ground.’
      • ‘These three Lebanese designers have not attempted to become the disembodied and untouchable master architect.’
      • ‘Although there was no certainty as to the overall winner, at the time of going to press it looked like it would be the midland's day, as deputy presidential candidate, Derek from Carlow was already untouchable.’
      • ‘The classical epic was born in the silent era of Chaplin and Dietrich, and its success was synonymous with the golden age of Hollywood, a time of lavish productions and an exotic world of untouchable screen icons.’
      • ‘Agreed, Danny was untouchable last year with his Yakumbuyo album to the extent that fans still talk about the title-track at his shows the moment he finishes performing Kaya.’
      intangible, impalpable, indefinable, indescribable, vague, obscure, unclear, indistinct
  • 2Of or belonging to the lowest-caste Hindu group or the people outside the caste system.


  • A member of the lowest-caste Hindu group or a person outside the caste system, contact with whom is traditionally held to defile members of higher castes.

    • ‘During a recent visit, I found liberals and intellectuals, jet-setters and slum dwellers, men and women, Brahmins and untouchables expressing this Hindu pride.’
    • ‘Rather, untouchables are outcastes placed below the sudra caste.’
    • ‘Elsewhere, where Hindus did convert, it was not the hoped-for Brahmins, but the powerless and disenfranchized lower castes and untouchables who made the change.’
    • ‘With the exception of the Brahmans and the untouchables the middle level was extremely heterogeneous and often unidentifiable within the four-fold varna.’
    • ‘Traditionally there are four castes in the Hindu religion, the fifth section of society being the untouchables, so lowly they are considered outside the caste system.’
    pariah, persona non grata, reject, leper, untouchable


In senses relating to the traditional Hindu caste system, the term untouchable and the social restrictions accompanying it were declared illegal in the constitution of India in 1949 and of Pakistan in 1953. The official term today is scheduled caste