in·​ca·​pac·​i·​tate | \ ˌin-kə-ˈpa-sə-ˌtāt How to pronounce incapacitate (audio) \
incapacitated; incapacitating

Definition of incapacitate

transitive verb

1 : to deprive of capacity or natural power : disable
2 : to make legally incapable or ineligible

Other Words from incapacitate

incapacitation \ ˌin-​kə-​ˌpa-​sə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce incapacitate (audio) \ noun

Examples of incapacitate in a Sentence

The class teaches you how to incapacitate an attacker. The stroke left her completely incapacitated. He was incapacitated by the pain. a computer system incapacitated by software problems
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Recent Examples on the Web Officers used bean-bag rounds and a Taser on Schild before firing live rounds when non-lethal methods failed to incapacitate him. Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic, 3 Jan. 2022 The investigation also found that Millete made multiple searches online for drugs that can be used to incapacitate people. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 21 Oct. 2021 Many in law enforcement are skeptical shooting to incapacitate could work broadly. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Oct. 2021 Writing sanctifies the ugly feelings that threaten to incapacitate her. Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2021 After George III came to the throne in 1760, the early decades of his reign saw the loss of the American colonies, before his first alarming bout of madness in 1788 seemed to incapacitate him. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The New York Review of Books, 28 May 2020 She is expected to argue that Ramos’s mental conditions did not meet the threshold for disorders that would incapacitate his judgment or eliminate his ability to discern right from wrong. Washington Post, 29 June 2021 Tasers are electroshock weapons meant to temporarily incapacitate a person. Elizabeth Depompei, The Indianapolis Star, 26 July 2021 If an unarmed attacker confronts you, believe in your ability to defend, distract, or even incapacitate the attacker enough to escape., 23 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incapacitate.' 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 incapacitate

1657, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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The first known use of incapacitate was in 1657

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Incapacitate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for incapacitate



English Language Learners Definition of incapacitate

: to make (someone or something) unable to work, move, or function in the usual way : disable


transitive verb
in·​ca·​pac·​i·​tate | \ ˌin-kə-ˈpa-sə-ˌtāt How to pronounce incapacitate (audio) \
incapacitated; incapacitating

Legal Definition of incapacitate

1 : to make legally incapable or ineligible mental illness alone will not incapacitate a person from making a valid contractLandmark Med. Ctr. v. Gauthier, 635 A.2d 1145 (1994)
2 : to deprive of capacity or natural power an injury that incapacitates the employee

Other Words from incapacitate

incapacitation \ -​ˌpa-​sə-​ˈtā-​shən How to pronounce incapacitate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on incapacitate

Nglish: Translation of incapacitate for Spanish Speakers


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