Inchoate derives from inchoare, which means "to start work on" in Latin but translates literally as "to hitch up." Inchoare was formed from the prefix in- and the noun cohum, which refers to the part of a yoke to which the beam of a plow is fitted. The concept of implementing this initial step toward the larger task of plowing a field can help provide a clearer understanding of inchoate, an adjective used to describe the imperfect form of something (such as a plan or idea) in its early stages of development. Perhaps because it looks a little like the word chaos (although the two aren't closely related), inchoate now not only implies the formlessness that often marks beginnings but also the confusion caused by chaos.
Examples of inchoate in a Sentence
inchoate feelings of affection for a man whom she had, up till now, thought of as only a friend
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inchoate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Inchoate is a legal term indicating that a transaction or activity has been discussed or even agreed upon but is not final or is still incomplete.
How It Works
Let's say Company XYZ wants to buy Company ABC. The two companies agree to the price and other terms, and now it's a matter of time until the paperwork is completed, making the transaction final. During that time -- that is, after the companies agree but before the transaction is finalized -- the deal is inchoate.
Why It Matters
In the merger world, lots of time can pass between when a deal is announced and when it closes. During this time, the deals are inchoate and can often experience several bumps in the road as the companies do their due diligence on each other and implement the terms of the deal.
Real estate deals are also often inchoate and transactions can often fall apart before they reach the closing table.