in·​ca·​pa·​ble | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce incapable (audio) \

Definition of incapable

1 : lacking capacity, ability, or qualification for the purpose or end in view: such as
a : not able or fit for the doing or performance : incompetent
b : not being in a state or of a kind to admit : insusceptible
c archaic : not able to take in, hold, or keep
d archaic : not receptive
2 : lacking legal qualification or power (as by reason of mental incompetence) : disqualified

Other Words from incapable

incapability \ (ˌ)in-​ˌkā-​pə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce incapable (audio) \ noun
incapableness \ (ˌ)in-​ˈkā-​pə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce incapable (audio) \ noun
incapably \ (ˌ)in-​ˈkā-​pə-​blē How to pronounce incapable (audio) \ adverb

Examples of incapable in a Sentence

hired a supremely incapable assistant who only made a mess of things
Recent Examples on the Web Domino is incapable of the former and beyond the latter — alert to it, but beyond it. Mark Feeney,, 16 June 2022 Steam catapults are also incapable of fine-tuning their power to allow smaller, lighter uncrewed aircraft to safely launch. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 15 June 2022 There are also many reasons why an infant might be incapable of breastfeeding, including premature birth or a disability that prevents latching. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 22 May 2022 Russians were incapable of pronouncing it correctly. James Verini, New York Times, 19 May 2022 That's when the man asked the victim which of his two cars was incapable of being tracked. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 16 May 2022 The one run scored earlier appeared to be more than enough for Detroit, a molehill in the shape of a mountain the Orioles were incapable of climbing, until Trey Mancini’s solo homer in the ninth inning of the 5-1 loss. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 15 May 2022 The Democrats are incapable of running on their accomplishments. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 14 May 2022 The sheer lyricism of his writing had me incapable of abandoning the story. Riza Cruz, ELLE, 27 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of incapable

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incapable

Middle French, from in- + capable capable

Learn More About incapable

Time Traveler for incapable

Time Traveler

The first known use of incapable was in 1594

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near incapable




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for incapable

Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incapable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for incapable


in·​ca·​pa·​ble | \ in-ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce incapable (audio) \

Kids Definition of incapable

: not able to do something Penguins are incapable of flight.



Legal Definition of incapable

: lacking legal qualification or power (as by reason of mental incompetence) — see also incapacity

More from Merriam-Webster on incapable

Nglish: Translation of incapable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incapable for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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