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 Now, throughout China, fear is mixing with inchoate rage. Charlie Campbell, Time, "The Coronavirus Outbreak Could Derail Xi Jinping’s Dreams of a Chinese Century," 6 Feb. 2020 The aim is to use the sound as a meditational object, an attentional foothold secure enough to let the to-do lists, inchoate longings and general mental detritus fall away. The Economist, "Hippie Inc: how the counterculture went corporate," 29 Nov. 2019 But these inchoate understandings of social belonging soon began to erode under the corrosive pressures of modern industrial life. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, "One for All," 26 Aug. 2019 The language has this rawness like the inchoate thoughts of a ninth-grader. Amy Sutherland, BostonGlobe.com, "Nell Zink on German authors, selective shelving, and sailing through ‘Byzantium’," 15 Aug. 2019 Her gift was to represent inchoate and hard-to-grasp feelings in ways that seem direct and unfiltered. David Salle, The New York Review of Books, "David Salle," 9 May 2019 Growing up in a fearful environment under these men and witnessing their acts of violence left me seething with an inchoate rage that manifested throughout my life in a self-destructive pattern. Vikram Zutshi, Quartz India, "Why do abusive men (and the women who support them) behave the way they do?," 19 July 2019 An intimate view of the arched back of a woman with long, wet hair against a dreamy, inchoate landscape, its heavy, rounded forms and soft, mottling brushstrokes arouse the sense of touch to an almost excruciating level. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, "More and more people loathe Renoir. Is it time for a revival?," 25 June 2019 Hersh’s politics, by contrast, are rather inchoate. Scott Sherman, The New York Review of Books, "A Muckraker’s Progress," 17 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for inchoate

Time Traveler

The first known use of inchoate was in 1534

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Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inchoate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inchoate. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for inchoate

inchoate

adjective

Financial Definition of inchoate

What It Is

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.

Source: Investing Answers

inchoate

adjective
How to pronounce inchoate (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on inchoate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inchoate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inchoate

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