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

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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 Bolton is right that Trump lacks the intellectual qualities to be a successful president, and is seemingly incapable of understanding the dispositions, interests, or needs of others. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "John Bolton’s Accidentally Unflattering Self-Portrait," 25 June 2020 Virgin Galactic's own SpaceShipTwo is a suborbital spaceplane that is incapable of making it to the ISS, and the company has only sent five people to space on two suborbital test flights. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "Virgin Galactic will help train astronauts for NASA," 22 June 2020 Chang said both of the wheels on the driver's side of the Jeep appeared to have been broken on the axle, likely making the vehicle incapable of being moved to a shoulder. Gwendolyn Wu, Houston Chronicle, "Father, 4-year-old struck and killed on North Freeway," 21 June 2020 Reform won’t happen without supervision, because Vallejo’s police are incapable of policing themselves. Otis R. Taylor Jr.,, "Critical assessment of Vallejo police no surprise to city’s residents," 15 June 2020 Both Durkan and Inslee swiftly hit back at Trump. ‘‘A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business., "Video shows Black man pinned by police and saying ‘I can’t breathe’," 11 June 2020 The fact is that the American state is rotten to the bone at almost every level, and incapable of performing the most elementary functions. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "America was not ready to reopen," 10 June 2020 Austin and Phan draw their experimental conclusions from comparing the performance of two strains of E.coli, one strain capable of chemical communication, and one that is incapable. Sophia Chen, Wired, "These Bacteria Ate Their Way Through a Really Tricky Maze," 9 June 2020 And as a bot I am specifically designed and programmed to be incapable of feelings. Seija Rankin,, "Set My Heart to Five,," 1 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for incapable

Time Traveler

The first known use of incapable was in 1594

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Statistics for incapable

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incapable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for incapable


How to pronounce incapable (audio)

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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