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

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Other Words from incapable

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

The mechanism for triggering it is the vice president taking the first step and getting a majority of the Cabinet to assert that the president is incapable of fulfilling his duties. Sean Illing, Vox, "Can the 25th Amendment be invoked to remove Trump from office? I asked one of its authors.," 14 Feb. 2019 The situation has only deteriorated under Donald Trump, whose stewardship has permanently polarized Congress, and who seems incapable of working in tandem with anyone in his own cabinet, much less anyone in Republican leadership. Fox News Staff, Fox News, "The GOP battle for the speakership intensifies," 7 Sep. 2018 Facebook had cut off their access to the social network’s developer system and wasn’t returning their calls, leaving employees unable to do work for existing clients and the sales team incapable of selling their services during the scandal. NBC News, "Inside the final days of Cambridge Analytica: failed rebrands, fleeing clients and Nerf basketball," 18 May 2018 For the most part, these efforts have been quiet and efficient, since their perpetrators are secure in the knowledge that their boss is uninterested in or incapable of exercising meaningful oversight. Jay Willis, GQ, "Trump Officials Are Now Openly Bragging About How Corrupt They Are," 25 Apr. 2018 To me, she was trapped in her own strange world, driven by her own mysterious motivations, and hopelessly incapable of being normal. Jennifer Rabiner*, Redbook, ""Why Don't I Like My Own Child?"," 10 Nov. 2016 But even the less facially-objectionable ones are still, for the most part, elderly white men whose billions of dollars have rendered them incapable of countenancing any ideas that might affect their bottom line in the slightest. Jay Willis, GQ, "Why the NFL's New Anthem Policy Is Beyond Stupid, Explained," 24 May 2018 Every year, motorists by the hundreds, paralyzed by an unusual fear, are rendered incapable of driving their own vehicles over area spans. Tommy Rowan,, "Scared of driving over bridges? You can call someone to take the wheel," 10 Apr. 2018 Some advocates think these dogs are imbued with incredible judgment, rendering them incapable of doing anything wrong. Newsweek, "Amazing Photos of Bioluminescent Phytoplankton," 14 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of incapable

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incapable

Middle French, from in- + capable capable

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Statistics for incapable

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incapable

The first known use of incapable was in 1594

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More Definitions for incapable



English Language Learners Definition of incapable

: not able to do something : not capable


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

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Comments on incapable

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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