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 : 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

The answer is yes, though the project remained slightly incomplete at the time of President Trump’s election. WSJ, "Obama’s TPP Would’ve Helped Limit China," 24 Mar. 2019 Perhaps so, but the authors themselves allude to national politics so many times that a lack of actual, local commentary makes their narrative feel incomplete. Kelsey Thomas, WSJ, "‘Our Towns’ Review: In Search of America," 25 July 2018 With some troopers appearing on two payroll lists, the number is impossible to tally due to incomplete data that officials provided to the Globe. Todd Wallack,, "State Police pay higher than reported, data hidden for years," 26 Mar. 2018 Early, incomplete data for 2017 indicate that the may finally be disappearing, suggesting that climbing interest rates are making it harder for the laggard firms to hang on. Jeanna Smialek,, "The Pro-Growth Magic of Inflation Anchoring: Eco Research Wrap," 6 Mar. 2018 Newsletter Sign-up The Wall Street Journal reviewed all of Brees’s 125 incomplete passes this season to determine what caused them. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "How Drew Brees Pushes the Limits of Quarterback Accuracy," 17 Jan. 2019 Without a minimum of trust, any deal would be either cosmetic, incomplete or doomed to fail. Andrew Kydd, Washington Post, "Promises on North Korea are easy to make but hard to keep. Here’s why.," 7 June 2018 Sponsor is not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete or inaccurate entries. House Beautiful, "April 2018 Name This Color Contest," 2 Jan. 2018 Newsletter Sign-up Société Générale avoided detection, in part, by making inaccurate or incomplete notations on payment messages that accompanied the transactions, prosecutors alleged. Samuel Rubenfeld, WSJ, "Société Générale to Pay $1.3 Billion to Resolve U.S. Sanctions, Money-Laundering Violations," 19 Nov. 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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Statistics for incomplete

Last Updated

18 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incomplete

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

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More Definitions for incomplete



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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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).


one that collects or salvages junk

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