in·​co·​her·​ent ˌin-kō-ˈhir-ənt How to pronounce incoherent (audio)
: lacking coherence: such as
: lacking normal clarity or intelligibility in speech or thought
incoherent with grief
: lacking orderly continuity, arrangement, or relevance : inconsistent
an incoherent essay
: lacking cohesion : loose
incoherently adverb

Did you know?

Something that is coherent holds or sticks together firmly, with resistance to separation (that is, it coheres). Coherent, ultimately from the Latin co- ("together") and haerēre ("to stick or cling"), entered English in the 16th century and almost from the beginning was used both of physical things ("coherent stone") and of things which hold together in a much less palpable way ("coherent thoughts"). Its antonym, incoherent, entered the language some decades later. Like coherent, incoherent can be applied to both the tangible and the intangible. But, whether we are speaking of sand or logic, all things incoherent have one thing in common: they do not hold together, literally or figuratively, in a unified or intelligible whole.

Examples of incoherent in a Sentence

The fever made her incoherent. He was very upset and practically incoherent after the accident. The memo is completely incoherent.
Recent Examples on the Web That title goes to Chris Pine’s Poolman, an incoherent noir pastiche that had viewers racing toward the exits barely 30 minutes into my press screening. Vulture, 14 Sep. 2023 This Earthsea is a mess, an incoherent jumbling of scenes and characters from Le Guin's work, resulting in a generic fantasy with no real narrative thread and barely any of the visual beauty of the studio's other works. Matt Kamen, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 By first exploding its internal differences and then annealing them in imaginative fictions at best loosely based in history—exactly as was done in this country for so long—a coherently incoherent tale gets told. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 His narration is all over the map and often incoherent. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2023 Harris, the story goes, is pathologically incoherent, cringingly inept at best and perhaps, at worst, somehow impaired. Paul McAdory, New York Times, 6 June 2023 Advertisement This setup transpires after another setup: a borderline incoherent prologue during which Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) does her thing as Spider-Woman, doing battle with a drawing from Renaissance Italy in the Guggenheim. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 31 May 2023 At times, Trump looked like a lunatic, babbling incoherent nonsense. Roxane Gay, Fortune, 13 May 2023 The result was an incoherent, often contradictory, occasionally world-damaging mess. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 21 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'incoherent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of incoherent was in 1599


Dictionary Entries Near incoherent

Cite this Entry

“Incoherent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​co·​her·​ent ˌin-kō-ˈhir-ənt How to pronounce incoherent (audio)
: not sticking closely or compactly together : loose
: not clearly or logically connected
told an incoherent story
: not clear or understandable in speech or thought
incoherent with grief
incoherently adverb

Medical Definition


in·​co·​her·​ent -ənt How to pronounce incoherent (audio)
: lacking clarity or intelligibility usually by reason of some emotional stress
incoherent speech
incoherently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on incoherent

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