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

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 Social workers said in state records that Ms. Maldonado was incapable of caring for her children and frequently missed appointments for counseling or therapy. New York Times, 12 May 2022 This requires a major commitment to housing, supporting and sheltering people who are incapable, for the most part, of providing for themselves. Thomas Curwenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 But experts believe the type of virus found in Bennett’s donor is incapable of infecting human cells, the publication reports. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 May 2022 In contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivers instructions to build the immunity-creating coronavirus protein using a cold virus that has been rendered harmless and is incapable of reproducing. Zachary Snowdon Smith, Forbes, 5 May 2022 Records say the victim was incapable of providing consent but did not elaborate. Carol Robinson |, al, 26 Apr. 2022 The movie is geared to celebrity worshippers who are incapable of perceiving the complexity and ambivalence of Cage’s failed artistic efforts (Wild at Heart, Birdy, Adaptation, Vampire’s Kiss, and Matchstick Men). Armond White, National Review, 22 Apr. 2022 In just seventeen days businesses were able to overturn years of assertions that the business system was incapable of accommodating divergent requirements. Caroline Casey, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 The service also wants to retire 33 of the 36 F-22 Raptors that are incapable of combat, leaving 123 combat-capable F-22s and 31 training-only F-22s in service. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 13 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incapable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for incapable


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

More from Merriam-Webster on incapable

Nglish: Translation of incapable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incapable for Arabic Speakers


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