incompetent

adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkäm-pə-tənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio) \

Definition of incompetent

1 : not legally qualified
2 : inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose
3a : lacking the qualities needed for effective action
b : unable to function properly incompetent heart valves

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Other Words from incompetent

incompetent noun
incompetently adverb

Examples of incompetent in a Sentence

He is too incompetent to be trusted with such an important responsibility. The patient is mentally incompetent. The defendant was declared incompetent to stand trial.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In Andia’s case, the cause was an incompetent cervix, also called cervical insufficiency. Naseem S. Miller, orlandosentinel.com, "Infant mortality: One family’s journey after losing 16-day-old son," 8 July 2019 Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Trump tweets about ‘fantastic’ state visit with the Queen," 3 June 2019 The hospital primarily houses people charged with crimes but found incompetent to stand trial. Sukey Lewis, The Mercury News, "Excessive use of force by police chief’s son leads to arrest of patient at Napa State Hospital," 19 June 2019 Everyone is afraid to be seen as incompetent, but true incompetence is not knowing and still acting without consultation. Janet Mock, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pose' Writer-Producer: What I Learned From My First Directing Experience (Guest Column)," 7 June 2019 Local authorities were incompetent, especially the mayor, Ray Nagin (who later went to prison for tax evasion, fraud, and bribery). Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books, "The City That Wouldn’t Die," 4 Apr. 2019 Thus a completely incompetent agreement with haulers that should never have existed in the first place. Joe Soucheray, Twin Cities, "Soucheray: Trash-collection ruling is a lesson for St. Paul, but city isn’t listening," 8 June 2019 Yet the greatest threat to U.S. interests may come from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s incompetent economic management. The Editorial Page, WSJ, "The Turkish Contagion Risk," 22 May 2019 The original trial attorney seemed terribly incompetent. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Woman's Day, "The Real Story Behind the Musical 'Chicago'," 12 May 2017

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

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incompetent

Middle French incompétent, from in- + compétent competent

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Statistics for incompetent

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incompetent

The first known use of incompetent was in 1595

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More Definitions for incompetent

incompetent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of incompetent

: lacking necessary ability or skills
law : not able to take part in a trial

incompetent

adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent | \ in-ˈkäm-pə-tənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio) \

Kids Definition of incompetent

: not able to do a good job

Other Words from incompetent

incompetently adverb

incompetent

adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent | \ (ˈ)in-ˈkäm-pət-ənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio) \

Medical Definition of incompetent

1 : not legally qualified especially : incapable due to a mental or physical condition
2 : unable to function properly incompetent heart valves

Other Words from incompetent

incompetently adverb

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incompetent

adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent | \ in-ˈkäm-pə-tənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio) \

Legal Definition of incompetent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not legally qualified: as
a : lacking legal capacity (as because of age or mental deficiency)
b : incapable due to mental or physical condition — compare competent
c : lacking authority, power, or qualifications required by law an incompetent court incompetent evidence
2 : unable or failing to perform adequately fired for being incompetent an incompetent attorney — compare ineffective assistance of counsel

incompetent

noun

Legal Definition of incompetent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is incompetent — compare interdict

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Comments on incompetent

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