incompetent

adjective

in·​com·​pe·​tent (ˌ)in-ˈkäm-pə-tənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio)
1
a
: 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
incompetent noun
incompetently adverb

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web In September, 394 inmates determined to be mentally incompetent cost the county about $5.55 million in medications, food and care. Dallas News, 21 Dec. 2022 County staff estimate a year of reserving these beds will help 113 inmates determined to be incompetent to stand trial. Dallas News, 21 Dec. 2022 But a judge dismissed the case when McQuaig was determined to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. Diane Bellcolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Oct. 2022 The news of Mendel's departure comes less than a month after he was placed on administrative leave, amid allegations of incompetent management and bullying behavior. Sasha Hupka, The Arizona Republic, 19 Dec. 2022 He was initially declared incompetent to stand trial. Jessie Balmert, The Enquirer, 8 Dec. 2022 More than half had a history of mental illness or had been declared incompetent, according to Sarah V. Wood, the general counsel for the public defender’s office. Shaila Dewan, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2022 This incompetent Biden administration is somehow trying to spin the loss of the House and the possible loss of the Senate as a victory. WSJ, 14 Nov. 2022 At the same time, the Russian brigades rolling toward Kyiv were getting bogged down by poor leadership, incompetent logistics and of course a determined Ukrainian defense. David Axe, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Middle French incompétent, from in- + compétent competent

First Known Use

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of incompetent was in 1595

Dictionary Entries Near incompetent

Cite this Entry

“Incompetent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incompetent. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

incompetent

1 of 2 adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent
(ˈ)in-ˈkäm-pət-ənt
1
: not legally qualified
2
: lacking qualities (as knowledge, skill, or ability) needed to do something well
an incompetent writer
incompetently adverb

incompetent

2 of 2 noun
: an incompetent person

Medical Definition

incompetent

adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent (ˈ)in-ˈkäm-pət-ənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio)
1
: not legally qualified
especially : incapable due to a mental or physical condition
2
: unable to function properly
incompetent heart valves
incompetently adverb

Legal Definition

incompetent

1 of 2 adjective
in·​com·​pe·​tent in-ˈkäm-pə-tənt How to pronounce incompetent (audio)
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

2 of 2 noun
: a person who is incompetent compare interdict

More from Merriam-Webster on incompetent

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY