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

Definition of incompetent

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

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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 Upon further review, Meyer has been incompetent as an NFL coach and made bad decision after bad decision. Mike Bianchi,, 5 Oct. 2021 The county maintains that the data in question never was deleted but that the contractors hired by the Senate were too incompetent to find it on the equipment that the county turned over to the Senate for the audit. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, 26 Sep. 2021 He had previously been found incompetent in April 2020, FOX 5 reported. Fox News, 8 July 2021 Two months later, he was found incompetent to stand trial. Kevin Grasha, The Enquirer, 2 July 2021 Across the system, patients there have a variety of needs, ranging from ventilator care for conditions like ALS to psychiatric care for people found incompetent to stand trial., 7 Sep. 2021 In Maryland, criminal defendants who cannot understand the charges against them or cannot follow legal proceedings are deemed incompetent to stand trial. Dan Morse, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2021 Typically, they are approved by court order after a person is found incompetent to manage their own affairs, such as a person diagnosed with dementia or with developmental disabilities. Ryan Yu, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 Aug. 2021 Republicans are seeking to use the crisis to create a narrative that Biden is incompetent, and to broaden the critique to his handling of border policies, the resurgence of the pandemic and the economy. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 23 Aug. 2021

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 2

History and Etymology for incompetent

Middle French incompétent, from in- + compétent competent

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Time Traveler for incompetent

Time Traveler

The first known use of incompetent was in 1595

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Dictionary Entries Near incompetent




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Statistics for incompetent

Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incompetent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for incompetent



English Language Learners Definition of incompetent

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


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


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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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



Legal Definition of incompetent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is incompetent — compare interdict

More from Merriam-Webster on incompetent

Nglish: Translation of incompetent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incompetent for Arabic Speakers


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