in·com·plete | \ˌin-kəm-ˈplēt \

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 : lacking one or more sets of floral organs an incomplete flower without stamens

c 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

2 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

3 of a football pass : not legally caught

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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

Pereira made a memorable first impression, explaining during a Week 1 NFL game that what appeared to be a game-winning catch by Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was by letter of the law an incomplete pass. Chad Finn,, "It’s officially a trend to bring referees into the broadcast booth," 28 June 2018 On the first play from scrimmage, the Kwansei quarterback, Kousei Okuno, rolled to his right and threw an incomplete pass. Ken Belson, New York Times, "The Football Hit Felt All Over Japan," 22 May 2018 Two sacks and an incomplete pass later, a potential go-ahead 43-yard field goal missed. Michael Casagrande,, "Why it was a long afternoon for Jalen Hurts on Alabama A-Day," 21 Apr. 2018 But then Williamson came back on the next drive and defended a pair of deep shots to Harris well, forcing incomplete passes. Bill Landis,, "Chase Young, Baron Browning, safety concerns and other Ohio State 2018 spring game defensive observations," 15 Apr. 2018 This list is incomplete, and by definition subjective, but here are the 10 most important factors in the Royals’ path from champions to non-competitive. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "The State of the Royals, Part 1 of 2: How did they get here?," 12 July 2018 Records provided to the Free Press, which appear to be incomplete, show Anders provided MSP members with at least 35 tickets worth about $2,500, with at least six Tigers tickets worth at least $204 going to Yesh. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Records: State Police captain's friendship with towing boss under investigation," 19 June 2018 If you're asked to sign a tax return that's incomplete, do not do it, Lauridsen said. Lorie Konish, USA TODAY, "Your tax preparer could be a fraud. Here's how to find out before it's too late.," 19 Mar. 2018 The Department of Defense still hopes the transfer will take place soon, but diplomatic arrangements with the Saudi government are incomplete, Cmdr. Charlie Savage, New York Times, "U.S. Misses Deadline to Repatriate Detainee Who Pleaded Guilty," 20 Feb. 2018

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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Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of incomplete

: not finished : not complete

Other Words from incomplete

incompletely adverb


in·com·plete | \ˌin-kəm-ˈplēt \

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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Comments on incomplete

What made you want to look up incomplete? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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