in·​com·​plete | \ ˌin-kəm-ˈplēt How to pronounce incomplete (audio) \

Definition of incomplete

1 : not complete : unfinished: such as
a : lacking a usually necessary part, element, or step spoke in incomplete sentences an incomplete set of golf clubs an incomplete diet
b of protein : deficient in one or more essential amino acids People used to think you needed to eat incomplete proteins together in the same meal to make up a complete protein, but that view has been debunked; simply eat a variety of plant-based protein sources throughout the day and you'll be fine.— Katherine Hobson
c : lacking one or more sets of floral organs an incomplete flower without stamens
2 of a football pass : not legally caught
3 of insect metamorphosis : characterized by the absence of a pupal stage between the immature stages and the adult of an insect in which the young usually resemble the adult — compare complete sense 6

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Other Words from incomplete

incompletely adverb
incompleteness noun

Examples of incomplete in a Sentence

an incomplete set of encyclopedias She handed in an incomplete assignment.
Recent Examples on the Web For instance, the euro area shares a currency but not a proper common budget, the single market is incomplete, capital markets are fragmented and a long-running push for banking union remains unresolved. Nikos Chrysoloras,, "Debt Crisis, Brexit, Now Virus. Can the EU Survive?," 13 May 2020 More than 80,000 people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus, according to NBC News counts, a number likely to be incomplete because of testing shortages, inconsistent death reporting practices and a high concentration of nursing home deaths. NBC News, "Lights, camera, hand sanitizer! Hollywood looks to reopen under a new normal," 11 May 2020 But before Romo, there was Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe and a couple of incomplete passes from Drew Henson and Patrick Crayton. John Hancock, Dallas Morning News, "Visualizing the numbers behind Jason Witten’s Cowboys career," 17 Mar. 2020 China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing three officials, who asked not to be identified because the report is secret. Time, "China Hits Back at Report That It Hid Coronavirus Numbers," 2 Apr. 2020 The data remain incomplete, however, because hospitals are providing their numbers voluntarily, and not all labs are yet reporting their results to the state, according to ODH spokeswoman Melanie Amato. cleveland, "Hospital coronavirus testing order to cut down on ‘simply unacceptable’ delays in Ohio results," 1 Apr. 2020 This characterization is too humble, however, and woefully incomplete. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Senators demand records illuminating dark money ties to Supreme Court appointments," 12 Mar. 2020 To me, a trip downtown feels incomplete without a visit to Side Street Espresso (412 G St.). Anchorage Daily News, "It’s Rondy; you’re cold, hungry and downtown. Here’s where to go.," 27 Feb. 2020 Hot chocolate is simply incomplete without marshmallows. Molly Glick, Popular Science, "A food scientist breaks down the thermodynamics between marshmallows and hot chocolate," 13 Jan. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incomplete

Middle English incompleet, from Late Latin incompletus, from Latin in- + completus complete

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Time Traveler for incomplete

Time Traveler

The first known use of incomplete was in the 14th century

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Statistics for incomplete

Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incomplete.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for incomplete


How to pronounce incomplete (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of incomplete

: lacking some part : not finished : not complete
American football, of a forward pass : not caught by the player the ball was thrown to


in·​com·​plete | \ ˌin-kəm-ˈplēt How to pronounce incomplete (audio) \

Kids Definition of incomplete

: not finished : not complete

Other Words from incomplete

incompletely adverb


in·​com·​plete | \ ˌin-kəm-ˈplēt How to pronounce incomplete (audio) \

Medical Definition of incomplete

1 of insect metamorphosis : having no pupal stage between the immature stages and the adult with the young insect usually resembling the adult — compare complete sense 1
2 of a bone fracture : not broken entirely across — compare complete sense 2
3 of a protein : deficient in one or more essential amino acids — compare complete sense 3
4 : characterized by incomplete dominance an incomplete trait

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