in·abil·i·ty | \ ˌi-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē \

Definition of inability 

: lack of sufficient power, resources, or capacity his inability to do math

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of inability in a Sentence

She has shown an inability to concentrate. the inability of the government to cope with the problem

Recent Examples on the Web

Insurance denials, partial payments, an inability to obtain patient information and patients without coverage forced the write-off, according to Fire-Rescue. Lois K. Solomon,, "County fails to collect $12 million in ambulance fees," 10 July 2018 Constant noise coupled with an inability to leave your things long enough to go to the bathroom. Francesca Serritella,, "Francesca Serritella: One week without my puppy, and my mental health is hanging by a dog hair," 5 July 2018 The company is by now famous for its inability to meet Musk’s lofty production targets, and Tesla went to extraordinary lengths to meet its 5,000-in-a-week goal. David Meyer, Fortune, "Tesla's Stock Stalls After a Report Says It Skipped a Brake Test to Reach Its Model 3 Production Targets," 4 July 2018 In France, Kane played in every match but didn't score a goal and is mainly remembered for his inability to take a corner., "Harry Kane Staying Away From Social Media at the World Cup to Improve Performances on the Pitch," 3 July 2018 In the midst of what is shaping up as a Cy Young Award-caliber season — never mind the low number of wins — deGrom chastised himself for his inability to control his pitches. David Waldstein, New York Times, "Jacob deGrom Blames Himself as the Mets Lose to the Dodgers in a Team Effort," 24 June 2018 Raccoons share such idiosyncrasies with humans as grabby forepaws, an affinity for the suburbs, and an inability to resist gorging themselves on what amounts to garbage., "Last Word: The raccoon that rose above," 15 June 2018 The state has been fined millions by a federal court for its inability to provide timely services to criminal defendants who have mental illnesses. Walker Orenstein, The Seattle Times, "Western State patient releases can be delayed years for lack of outside beds," 20 May 2018 Although budding stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons led the way for the Sixers, the Magic had themselves to blame for their inability to slow the Sixers in transition. Josh Robbins,, "Magic must improve their terrible transition defense, Vogel says," 23 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inability.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of inability

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inability

Middle English inhabilite disqualification, from Medieval Latin inhabilitas, from Latin in- + habilitas ability

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inability

Statistics for inability

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inability

The first known use of inability was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inability



English Language Learners Definition of inability

: the condition of not being able to do something : lack of ability


in·abil·i·ty | \ ˌi-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē \

Kids Definition of inability

: the condition of being unable to do something : lack of ability He laughed at my inability to sing.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on inability

What made you want to look up inability? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!