in·​ca·​pa·​ble (ˌ)in-ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce incapable (audio)
: lacking capacity, ability, or qualification for the purpose or end in view: such as
: not able or fit for the doing or performance : incompetent
: not being in a state or of a kind to admit : insusceptible
archaic : not able to take in, hold, or keep
archaic : not receptive
: lacking legal qualification or power (as by reason of mental incompetence) : disqualified
incapableness noun
incapably adverb

Examples of incapable in a Sentence

hired a supremely incapable assistant who only made a mess of things
Recent Examples on the Web Of the 600 wounded who remain, 150 are incapable of walking independent of any help — men, women and children with fractures, lower limb amputations or orthopedic fixation devices. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2023 In interviews, people who know Brand described him to me as someone almost pathologically incapable of not having an audience and willing to do virtually anything to keep it. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, 13 Nov. 2023 By sharing her story in unemotional terms, Spears creates distance between herself and the childish, incapable image of her proliferated by her conservatorship, condemning the forces that paralyzed her between two stages of life. TIME, 20 Oct. 2023 Yet, for all his accolades and accomplishments, Mr. Knight was incapable of curbing his temper or his tongue. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2023 The lack of diversity and representation in the media reinforces the idea that Black people, specifically Black women, are incapable of telling their own stories and that their narratives are unimportant. Essence, 31 Oct. 2023 No leader who is demonstrably incapable of protecting Jews in his or her own country should try to prevent Israel from defending itself. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 30 Oct. 2023 The victim’s father, David Ordaz, said the incident has destroyed his family and left him incapable of ever trusting law enforcement. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 21 Oct. 2023 At that time, the conventional wisdom was that women were incapable of completing such a physically demanding task and that attempting to do so could harm their precious reproductive capacities. Cara Ocobock, Scientific American, 19 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'incapable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French, from in- + capable capable

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of incapable was in 1594

Dictionary Entries Near incapable

Cite this Entry

“Incapable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​ca·​pa·​ble (ˈ)in-ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce incapable (audio)
: not able to do something
incapable of cleaning her room thoroughly

Legal Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on incapable

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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