in·​cor·​ri·​gi·​ble | \ (ˌ)in-ˈkȯr-ə-jə-bəl How to pronounce incorrigible (audio) , -ˈkär- \

Definition of incorrigible

: incapable of being corrected or amended: such as
a(1) : not reformable : depraved
b : not manageable : unruly

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Other Words from incorrigible

incorrigibility \ (ˌ)in-​ˌkȯr-​ə-​jə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce incorrigible (audio) , -​ˌkär-​ \ noun
incorrigible noun
incorrigibleness \ (ˌ)in-​ˈkȯr-​ə-​jə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce incorrigible (audio) , -​ˈkär-​ \ noun
incorrigibly \ (ˌ)in-​ˈkȯr-​ə-​jə-​blē How to pronounce incorrigible (audio) , -​ˈkär-​ \ adverb

If incorrigible Is a Word, Is Corrigible a Word?

Incorrigible has been part of English since the 14th century. Back then, it was used to describe people who were morally depraved, but now it is most often applied to people who merely have bad habits. Is there a "corrigible?" Yes, indeed, we've used "corrigible" in the sense of "capable of being set right; reparable" (as in "a corrigible defect" and "a corrigible sinner") since the 15th century. Both words are from Latin corrigere, which means "to correct" and which is also the source of our word correct.

Examples of incorrigible in a Sentence

The incorrigible maleness of men is a standing rebuke to the Rousseau-inspired notions of human moral plasticity that are central to liberalism. — Richard Lowry, National Review, 3 July 2000 At the heart of Roosevelt's style in foreign affairs was a certain incorrigible amateurism. His off-the-cuff improvisations, his airy tendency to throw out half-baked ideas, caused others to underrate his continuity of purpose … — Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., American Heritage, May/June 1994 Eating fugu … is an exotic custom that probably would appeal to every incorrigible mountain climber, skydiver and bungee-jumper in America. Why? The fugu is poisonous—and there's no antidote. — Max Friedman, Vegetarian Times, October 1993 Yes, this is a book about America … all seen through the fairy-book life of an incorrigible kid, abandoned by his parents and brought up in a reformatory … — Stephen Jay Gould, New York Times Book Review, 7 May 1989 an incorrigible habit of playing practical jokes He is always the class clown and his teachers say he is incorrigible.
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Recent Examples on the Web The arc traced by Brignac, one of the most incorrigible pedophiles to work in the New Orleans clergy, makes plain why the clerical abuse crisis has been so searing — and so enduring. David A. Hammer,, "Monster in Our Midst: A timeline of George Brignac's abuse in New Orleans-area churches," 16 Dec. 2020 Any attempt to break out of the straightjacket of our own incorrigible self-regard will have to take account of one overarching reality, which is America's decline relative to rising powers. Damon Linker, TheWeek, "What if the U.S. isn't special?," 9 Dec. 2020 Yet in Mississippi trial judges hand down such sentences without specifically finding juveniles incorrigible. Aaron Tang, Star Tribune, "Court sends decidedly centrist signals," 30 Nov. 2020 And in a scene envisioned by soccer historian Jimmy Burns in a 1996 biography, life in Argentina came to a halt as well, as fans mourned the loss of a champion alternately invincible and incorrigible — and ultimately inscrutable. Liz Clarke, Washington Post, "Diego Maradona, inscrutable soccer star and Argentine legend, dies at 60," 25 Nov. 2020 That Joe Biden — institutionalist 70-something, incorrigible square, inexhaustible reciter of Irish poetry. Matt Flegenheimer, New York Times, "Dancing in the Streets, and a Parking Lot, for Joe Biden," 8 Nov. 2020 The same incorrigible optimism could be seen at work in economic projections issued by the Congressional Budget Office late last week. Damon Linker, TheWeek, "American optimism is becoming a problem," 27 Apr. 2020 His attorneys nonetheless claimed those rulings require judges to decide if defendants are incorrigible or capable of reform, and that Virginia denied Malvo that opportunity. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Virginia law makes 'D.C. sniper' Lee Boyd Malvo eligible for parole, ends Supreme Court case," 25 Feb. 2020 Since 2002, the Supreme Court has barred not only the death penalty for juvenile offenders but mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all but the most incorrigible. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Virginia law makes 'D.C. sniper' Lee Boyd Malvo eligible for parole, ends Supreme Court case," 25 Feb. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incorrigible

Middle English, from Late Latin incorrigibilis, from Latin in- + corrigere to correct — more at correct

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

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Last Updated

27 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incorrigible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for incorrigible


How to pronounce incorrigible (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of incorrigible

: not able to be corrected or changed

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Nglish: Translation of incorrigible for Spanish Speakers

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