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adjective in·cho·ate \in-ˈkō-ət, ˈin-kə-ˌwāt\

Simple Definition of inchoate

  • : not completely formed or developed yet

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of inchoate

  1. :  being only partly in existence or operation :  incipient; especially :  imperfectly formed or formulated :  formless, incoherent <misty, inchoate suspicions that all is not well with the nation — J. M. Perry>

inchoately adverb
inchoateness noun

Examples of inchoate in a sentence

  1. <inchoate feelings of affection for a man whom she had, up till now, thought of as only a friend>

Did You Know?

Inchoate derives from "inchoare," which means "to begin" in Latin but translates literally as "to hitch up." "Inchoare" was formed from the prefix in- and the noun "cohum," which refers to the strap that secures a plow beam to a pulling animal's yoke. The concept of implementing this initial step toward the larger task of plowing a field can help provide a clearer understanding of "inchoate," an adjective used to describe the imperfect form of something (as a plan or idea) in its early stages of development. Perhaps because it looks a little like the word chaos (although the two aren't closely related), "inchoate" now not only implies the formlessness that often marks beginnings, but also the confusion caused by chaos.

Origin of inchoate

Latin inchoatus, past participle of inchoare to start work on, perhaps from in- + cohum part of a yoke to which the beam of a plow is fitted

First Known Use: 1534

Rhymes with inchoate

Law Dictionary


adjective in·cho·ate \in-ˈkō-ət, ˈiŋ-kō-ˌāt\

Legal Definition of inchoate

  1. 1a :  not yet made complete, certain, or specific :  not perfected — see also inchoate lien at lien b :  not yet transformed into actual use or possession <until an employee has earned his retirement pay…[it] is but an inchoate right — Peterson v. Fire & Police Pension Ass'n, 759 P.2d 720 (1988)>

  2. 2 :  of or relating to a crime (as attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy) which consists of acts that are preliminary to another crime and that are in themselves criminal — compare choate

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expressing little or no emotion

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