in·​com·​pat·​i·​ble | \ ˌin-kəm-ˈpa-tə-bəl How to pronounce incompatible (audio) \

Definition of incompatible

1 : incapable of being held by one person at one time used of offices that make conflicting demands on the holder
2 : not compatible: such as
a : incapable of association or harmonious coexistence incompatible colors
b : unsuitable for use together because of undesirable chemical or physiological effects incompatible drugs
c : not both true incompatible propositions
d : incapable of blending into a stable homogeneous mixture

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Other Words from incompatible

incompatible noun
incompatibly \ ˌin-​kəm-​ˈpa-​tə-​blē How to pronounce incompatibly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of incompatible in a Sentence

This printer is incompatible with some PCs. the committee's incompatible goals—develop new projects and cut costs—meant that they got very little accomplished

Recent Examples on the Web

Something the report doesn’t say is that for certain types of journalism the quest for traffic is incompatible with, if not antithetical to, the task at hand. Christian Lorentzen, Harper's magazine, "Like This or Die," 10 Apr. 2019 This, however, would be incompatible with quantum theory, according to which information must be preserved. Quanta Magazine, "The Double Life of Black Holes," 29 Jan. 2019 Among them was to halt accepting new novices in monasteries nationwide for a year and giving monks across Egypt one month to close their social media accounts arguing that keeping them is incompatible with monastic life. Fox News, "Egypt prosecutors order ex-monk detained over abbot death," 11 Aug. 2018 Many seem to have set the formula aside as incompatible with the current views of the party base, which is seen as demanding either a full pitch for social democracy, an explicit focus on questions of racial and gender identity, or both. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Joe Biden is leading the 2020 polls. Here’s what he thinks about policy.," 18 Dec. 2018 Both Canada and Mexico quickly rejected that as incompatible with the core principles of an agreement designed to tighten integration of a continentwide bloc. Santiago Pérez, WSJ, "In Nafta Rewrite, Canada Took Cue From Mexico: Make a Big Concession," 29 Nov. 2018 Some relationships are kink-incompatible, which means that partners may be turned on by different things, and that can sometimes be worked around (more on this later). Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "Kink-Shaming 101: The Stigma-Free Guide to Disclosing Your Sexual Kinks and Fetishes," 3 Oct. 2018 Authorities’ mass-surveillance ambitions are bedeviled by unreliable and incomplete basic data, as well as incompatible datasets and systems developed by different companies, among other problems. Maya Wang, WSJ, "China’s Bumbling Police State," 26 Dec. 2018 Microsoft has since been working on ensuring all PCs can get the update, after blocking it on some systems that had incompatible software or hardware drivers. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Windows 10 October 2018 Update is now available for everyone to download," 18 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incompatible.' 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 incompatible

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incompatible

Middle English, from Medieval Latin incompatibilis, from Latin in- + Medieval Latin compatibilis compatible

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Statistics for incompatible

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incompatible

The first known use of incompatible was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for incompatible



English Language Learners Definition of incompatible

: not able to exist together without trouble or conflict : not going together well
: not able to be used together


in·​com·​pat·​i·​ble | \ ˌin-kəm-ˈpa-tə-bəl How to pronounce incompatible (audio) \

Kids Definition of incompatible

1 : not able to exist together without trouble or conflict incompatible workers incompatible plans
2 : not able to be used together This video game is incompatible with that system.


in·​com·​pat·​i·​ble | \ ˌin-kəm-ˈpat-ə-bəl How to pronounce incompatible (audio) \

Medical Definition of incompatible

1 : unsuitable for use together because of chemical interaction or antagonistic physiological effects incompatible drugs
2 of blood or serum : unsuitable for use in a particular transfusion because of the presence of agglutinins that act against the recipient's red blood cells

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Comments on incompatible

What made you want to look up incompatible? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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