in·​ad·​e·​quate (ˌ)i-ˈna-di-kwət How to pronounce inadequate (audio)
: not adequate : not enough or good enough : insufficient
inadequate equipment
also : not capable
was inadequate as a leader
inadequately adverb
inadequateness noun

Example Sentences

These supplies are inadequate to meet our needs. We were given very inadequate information. I felt inadequate to the task. Her brother's success and popularity always made her feel inadequate.
Recent Examples on the Web The document claims, among other things, that the environmental impact report used for the project is inadequate because it was approved in 2008 for a previous project, a big-box shopping center called The Pavilion that was never built. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Nov. 2022 Meanwhile, Gavin’s groundwater systems were found to be inadequate, yet still detected excessive levels of chemicals like boron, calcium, and chloride around the site. Jake Zuckerman, cleveland, 22 Nov. 2022 But according to experts, government action is inadequate since the challenges are bigger. Vivek Gupta, Quartz, 10 Nov. 2022 And if these younger workers feel the compensation is inadequate or a better opportunity awaits, Gen Z workers are much less likely to stay put out of loyalty to an employer or considerations of long-term benefits. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 9 Nov. 2022 The data show many children need significant intervention, the researchers said, adding that school systems around the country are not doing enough — and the funding for the task is likely to be inadequate in most places. Los Angeles Times, 28 Oct. 2022 This response was inadequate and even cowardly, which Brown later realized. Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, 26 Oct. 2022 Protesters claim attempts by the government to alleviate the pain are inadequate. Chris Massaro, Fox News, 13 Oct. 2022 And the expected cost of living adjustment could still be inadequate. Rob Wile, NBC News, 12 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1671, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inadequate was in 1671

Dictionary Entries Near inadequate

Cite this Entry

“Inadequate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



in·​ad·​e·​quate (ˈ)in-ˈad-i-kwət How to pronounce inadequate (audio)
: not adequate : not enough or not good enough
an inadequate supply of food
inadequately adverb

Medical Definition

inadequate 1 of 2


in·​ad·​e·​quate -i-kwət How to pronounce inadequate (audio)
: not adequate : deficient
an inadequate dose
inadequate perfusion
inadequate diets
: lacking the capacity for psychological maturity or adequate social adjustment
an inadequate personality
inadequately adverb


2 of 2


: one who is inadequate especially in terms of social adjustment

More from Merriam-Webster on inadequate

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