in·​ca·​pac·​i·​ty | \ ˌin-kə-ˈpa-sə-tē How to pronounce incapacity (audio) , -ˈpa-stē\
plural incapacities

Definition of incapacity

: the quality or state of being incapable especially : lack of physical or intellectual power or of natural or legal qualifications

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of incapacity in a Sentence

I'm aware of my weaknesses and incapacities. her entrenched incapacity for decision-making doesn't make her a very good boss

Recent Examples on the Web

At the Supreme Court, however, Alabama Deputy Attorney General Thomas Govan, agreed with Mr. Madison’s lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, that the cause of an inmate’s mental incapacity didn’t matter. Jess Bravin, WSJ, "Supreme Court Grapples With Planned Execution of Convicted Killer With Dementia," 2 Oct. 2018 No always means no, incapacity means no by default, and there are no exceptions. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Girl was allegedly raped at a party in Prince William, police say," 21 Apr. 2018 Among the biggest problems in the Muslim world, in the Arab world, is the incapacity to face the problem. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "Struggling to prevent terrorist attacks, France wants to ‘reform’ Islam," 17 Apr. 2018 But what if the incapacity had not, in fact, been overcome? Jon Meacham, Time, "Could the 25th Amendment Be Trump's Downfall? Here's How It Works," 11 Jan. 2018 The big Russian shadow libraries emerged from this mix of clandestine librarianship, economic crisis, technological change and — at the state level — regulatory incapacity. Joe Karaganis, Washington Post, "Russia is building a new Napster — but for academic research," 13 July 2018 In South Korea, defectors from North Korea often face stigma and discrimination based on presumptions of incapacity. Washington Post, "North Korean defector hits Paralympic ice for South Korea," 13 Mar. 2018 Either way, the constitution lists three reasons an officeholder can be removed: for crime, incapacity or negligence, Schumm said. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Curtis Hill scandal threatens his future — and stability in Indiana Statehouse," 8 July 2018 The disarmament groups will likely flounder from their incapacity to harmonize disparate views. Chris Baylor, Washington Post, "Teachers’ unions may not raise pay — but they do bolster the Democratic Party," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incapacity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of incapacity

1611, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incapacity

French incapacité, from Middle French, from in- + capacité capacity

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about incapacity

Statistics for incapacity

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incapacity

The first known use of incapacity was in 1611

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incapacity



English Language Learners Definition of incapacity

formal : a lack or loss of the ability to do something in the usual or desired way


in·​ca·​pac·​i·​ty | \ ˌin-kə-ˈpa-sə-tē How to pronounce incapacity (audio) \
plural incapacities

Legal Definition of incapacity

1 : the quality or state of being incapable especially : lack of legal qualifications due to age or mental condition — compare capacity
2 : the inability of an injured worker to perform the duties required in a job for which he or she is qualified — compare disability sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on incapacity

What made you want to look up incapacity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!