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Recent Examples on the Web Another 48% have not been processed, 40% have been deemed incomplete, 3% have been withdrawn and 2% have been denied, the report said. Rebekah L. Sanders, azcentral, "Democrats urge Ducey to extend eviction delay amid rising unemployment, lack of other aid," 23 June 2020 Specialists say this could paint an incomplete or misleading picture., "US trade adviser links virus to China government," 22 June 2020 Juneteenth represents freedom, but also the quiet cruelty of freedom that is incomplete. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "Miss Juneteenth Is Your New Fave Pageant Movie, Mother-Daughter Drama, and Celebration of Black Women All in One," 19 June 2020 Robert Cohen, a professor of history and social studies in NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, said while black history is taught in some schools, curriculums are often incomplete. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Did you learn about Juneteenth in school? Many American history lessons fall short on black history," 19 June 2020 Despite incomplete data, Sidelinger said health officials remained confident with their initial findings. oregonlive, "Oregon health officials ‘have not seen any evidence’ of coronavirus spread at protests," 18 June 2020 The analysis emerges amid ongoing controversy over incomplete clinical trial reporting, an issue that has embroiled drug makers, universities, and policy makers in the U.S. and Europe. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Some Covid-19 trial sponsors never posted other study results in an EU database. Will they hide data again?," 17 June 2020 As with any appeal to the courts, particularly one seeking recognition of rights, the outcome of the Supreme Court case will necessarily be incomplete. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "A Glimpse of a Trans Future," 16 June 2020 The sheriff’s investigations of inmate deaths were incomplete or nonexistent. Thalia Beaty, ProPublica, "Somebody’s Gotta Help Me”," 16 June 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

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incomplete.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 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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