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

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Other Words from inchoate

inchoately adverb
inchoateness noun

When Should You Use inchoate?

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
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, "Apocalypse Now? Now? How About Now?," 10 Aug. 2020 Most of the narrators foreground the act of telling and ruminate on the intention behind and effects of disclosing secrets, putting inchoate impulses, fears, or yearnings into clear, logical prose. BostonGlobe.com, "For Murakami, a return to form in ‘First Person Singular,’ a new story collection that sparkles," 1 Apr. 2021 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, "Apocalypse Now? Now? How About Now?," 10 Aug. 2020 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, "Apocalypse Now? Now? How About Now?," 10 Aug. 2020 But the fetishizing of food suggests anxiety, too, and a yearning, however inchoate, to reconnect with our origins. New York Times, "The Activists Working to Remake the Food System," 19 Feb. 2021 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, "Apocalypse Now? Now? How About Now?," 10 Aug. 2020 Still others find it in work that’s typically solitary and more often than not performed at a remove from societal expectations, which lifts the veil off an inchoate sense of transness and offers a safe place to try on an emerging identity. Ben Harris, sun-sentinel.com, "Transgender Jews are finding a safe haven in an unexpected place: the farm," 24 Feb. 2021 His peers, however, didn’t share these views: Construing a narrower role for the courts, an appellate panel quelled his inchoate revolt months later. Washington Post, "A fed-up judge condemns the inequities in America’s legal system," 19 Feb. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of inchoate

1534, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for inchoate

Latin inchoatus, past participle of inchoare to start work on, perhaps from in- + cohum part of a yoke to which the beam of a plow is fitted

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The first known use of inchoate was in 1534

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Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inchoate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inchoate. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for inchoate

inchoate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of inchoate

formal : not completely formed or developed yet

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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