in·​ca·​pa·​ble | \(ˌ)in-ˈkā-pə-bəl \

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 \ noun
incapableness \(ˌ)in-​ˈkā-​pə-​bəl-​nəs \ noun
incapably \(ˌ)in-​ˈkā-​pə-​blē \ adverb

Examples of incapable in a Sentence

hired a supremely incapable assistant who only made a mess of things

Recent Examples on the Web

In this case, the car was incapable of transmitting log data to our servers, which has prevented us from reviewing the vehicle’s data from the accident. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Another Tesla with Autopilot crashed into a stationary object—the driver is suing," 30 Oct. 2018 As a number of AI and robotics researchers pointed out on Twitter, Pepper the robot is incapable of giving such evidence. James Vincent, The Verge, "The UK invited a robot to ‘give evidence’ in Parliament for attention," 12 Oct. 2018 Eventually, civil rights organizations, like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the NAACP, became involved, organizing a group of people who had long been considered by some to be incapable of collective and decisive action. Mariana Viera, Teen Vogue, "How Méndez vs. Westminster Helped End Segregated Schools for Latinx Children in 1940s California," 12 Oct. 2018 Addressing a public that seems incapable of discussing anything but freedom, Mr. Peterson presents himself unmistakably as a philosophical advocate of order. Yoram Hazony, WSJ, "Jordan Peterson and Conservatism’s Rebirth," 15 June 2018 This is a recurring issue for Madrid and one of the reasons Zidane’s side seems so incapable of controlling games. Jonathan Wilson,, "Bayern Munich Its Own Worst Enemy as Real Madrid Returns to Champions League Final," 1 May 2018 Bochy noted that many players are unwilling or incapable of remaking themselves. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "'You only get one career': Giants' Mac Williamson breaks out after big-time changes," 25 Apr. 2018 The oratorical challenges that life has thrown at him over the last four years—the 2004 convention, the race speech, Berlin—have given chance after chance to flop, but the man seems incapable of doing so. Newsweek, "Analysis," 14 Mar. 2018 And incapable of answering as both an industry as well as a government. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Box CEO Aaron Levie on Recode Decode," 11 July 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

26 Nov 2018

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 \

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

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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