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 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 Problems about accuracy raise concerns about amplifying bad advice to people who may be vulnerable or incapable of critical thinking, as well as fears of perpetuating racial or cultural biases. Lisa Ward, WSJ, "Can Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Therapists?," 27 Mar. 2021 Black people were described as lazy and incapable of operating independent of masters, Millner said. Jordan Culver, USA TODAY, "A bust of the lone Black adventurer in the Lewis and Clark expedition mysteriously appeared in an Oregon park. Who was York?," 8 Mar. 2021 The notion floated by many policymakers that the police culture in Minneapolis is irredeemably toxic and incapable of change is offensive to me personally and professionally. Paul Ostrow, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis needs reformers, not performers," 28 Feb. 2021 The goal of viral vaccinations is to have enough people in a community already immune and incapable of being contagious and spreading a disease, known as herd immunity. Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, "Arizona to get COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December," 24 Nov. 2020 Tennessee is a desperate team, but clearly incapable. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Does Greg Sankey have his finger on the red button?," 19 Nov. 2020 Bisexuals are also perceived to be indecisive and incapable of monogamy. Kirthan Aujlay,, "One Thing You Should Never Ask A Bisexual Person," 29 Oct. 2020 Trump and his campaign have moved heaven and earth to paint Biden as weak or senile or somehow incapable of stringing together coherent sentences. Rex Huppke,, "Column: Biden closing campaign on note of unity, while Trump sticks with sound and fury, signifying hate," 28 Oct. 2020 The Iowa was also, with the exception of a pair of seaplanes, comparatively blind and incapable of locating enemy ships at ranges greater than the horizon. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Army's Mind-Bending 1,000-Mile Cannon Is Coming. Could It Bring Back Battleships?," 16 Oct. 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

22 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incapable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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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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