inchoate

adjective
in·​cho·​ate | \ in-ˈkō-ət How to pronounce inchoate (audio) , ˈin-kə-ˌwāt \

Definition of inchoate

: being only partly in existence or operation : incipient especially : imperfectly formed or formulated : formless, incoherent misty, inchoate suspicions that all is not well with the nation — J. M. Perry

Other Words from inchoate

inchoately adverb
inchoateness noun

When Should You Use inchoate?

Inchoate comes from inchoare, which means "to start work on" in Latin but translates literally as "to hitch up" (inchoare combines the prefix in- with the Latin noun cohum, which refers to the strap that secures a plow beam to a draft animal's yoke). The concept of this initial step toward the larger task of plowing a field explains how inchoate came to describe something (as a plan or idea) in its early, not fully formed, stages of development.

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
Recent Examples on the Web Prepper Camp was a castle built on emotion: fear of the inchoate other was so great that the survivalists felt justified in being prepared to kill other humans to protect their material goods. Krista Stevens, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 As presented here, the links between the two are both vivid and inchoate; concrete and fuzzy; real and imagined. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 17 July 2022 Prepper Camp was a castle built on emotion: fear of the inchoate other was so great that the survivalists felt justified in being prepared to kill other humans to protect their material goods. Krista Stevens, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 That reflects the inchoate nature of this rebellion, according to analysts. New York Times, 7 June 2022 And Trump, beyond his bellicose and inchoate trade war against China, largely ignored the region, save for a couple of fancy dinners with Kim Jong Un. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 24 May 2022 Two minutes into the video, there is inchoate wailing. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 27 May 2022 At the end of the song, Ye’s language becomes almost inchoate, like scat or the communication attempts of a child just learning to use their words. New York Times, 14 Mar. 2022 Prepper Camp was a castle built on emotion: fear of the inchoate other was so great that the survivalists felt justified in being prepared to kill other humans to protect their material goods. Krista Stevens, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 See More

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.

First Known Use of inchoate

1534, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inchoate

borrowed from Latin incohātus, inchoātus "only begun, unfinished, imperfect," from past participle of incohāre "to start work on, begin, initiate," perhaps, if the original sense was "to yoke a plow to a team of oxen," from in- in- entry 2 + -cohāre, verbal derivative of cohum "hollow in the middle of a yoke into which a pole is fitted" or "strap used to attach the pole to the yoke," of uncertain origin

Note: The word cohum is known only from the work of the grammarians varro and Sextus Pompeius Festus, and their definitions may have been influenced by the presumed etymologies. Varro, who took the word to mean "hollow in the middle of a yoke" ("sub jugo medio cavum"), may have associated it with cavum "cavity, hole," which he uses as the genus term. Festus, who defines it as a strap or thong (lorum), associates it with cohibēre "to hold together, keep in place." If these meanings are correct, cohum may be linked to a putative western Indo-European verbal base *kagh- "grasp, enclose" (see the note at haw entry 1), with an o of secondary origin. But given the lack of textual evidence for cohum, any etymology must remain speculative.

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The first known use of inchoate was in 1534

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Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inchoate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inchoate. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for inchoate

inchoate

adjective
in·​cho·​ate | \ in-ˈkō-ət, ˈiŋ-kō-ˌāt How to pronounce inchoate (audio) \

Legal Definition of inchoate

1a : not yet made complete, certain, or specific : not perfected — see also inchoate lien at lien
b : not yet transformed into actual use or possession until an employee has earned his retirement pay…[it] is but an inchoate rightPeterson v. Fire & Police Pension Ass'n, 759 P.2d 720 (1988)
2 : of or relating to a crime (as attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy) which consists of acts that are preliminary to another crime and that are in themselves criminal — compare choate

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