We never seem to run out of examples of seemingly well-educated people on television butchering the English language. Our latest revelation came on a morning news show where the host proclaimed that the border crisis was making the people of Texas feel unsecure. While this is possible, the correct wording would normally have used insecure, not unsecure.
We are reminded that English has become a universally accepted language in part because it is easily understood, even when it is incorrectly spoken. For example, you do not need to understand the difference in bear and bare for a listener to grasp the meaning of a sentence.
Insecure should be used when explaining that something lacks security, even if there was an intent to keep the item secure. We might say: “Jack was insecure about his ability to pass the physics test.” or “Jill was insecure about her public speaking abilities.”
We might also use insecure when describing a person’s mental state: “Jack was frozen with fear and anxiety because he felt insecure about his height.”
Unsecure should be used when saying that an item is not secured or not guaranteed in any way. Using this in a sentence we might say: “Jack left the door open when he left, and the house was unsecure.” or “Jill failed to get the new burglar alarm installed and the house is unsecure.”
There is also a similar meaning related specifically to lending. Banks make either secured or unsecured loans. The meaning is that the loan is directly connected to collateral that can be taken if the loan is not paid. This has the interpretation of the loan being more secure because of the collateral backing. “Jack got a secured loan on his new car but he had to pledge the car as collateral.”
A current example would be: “It has been reported that FTX owes its unsecured creditors billions, and its secured creditors even more.
Both words are adjectives, both have similar pronunciations, and often they are used interchangeably, but incorrectly.