in·​cred·​u·​lous (ˌ)in-ˈkre-jə-ləs How to pronounce incredulous (audio)
: unwilling to admit or accept what is offered as true : not credulous : skeptical
: expressing incredulity
an incredulous stare
incredulously adverb
Can incredulous mean 'incredible'?: Usage Guide

Sense 3 was revived in the 20th century after a couple of centuries of disuse. Although it is a sense with good literary precedent—among others Shakespeare used it—it is widely regarded as an error resulting from confusion with incredible, and its occurrence in published writing is rare.

Examples of incredulous in a Sentence

"Afraid not." I made an expression to show that I was as incredulous about this as he was. Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999
A tweed-encased fogey, he's allergic to technology, persnickety about language, and incredulous that anyone could object to his incessant smoking. John Powers, Vogue, March 1998
He was greeted with incredulous laughter. Robert M. Hutchins, Center Magazine, September 1968
… no obstacle, no incredulous or unsafe circumstance … William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, 1602
She listened to his explanation with an incredulous smile. He was incredulous at the news. Many people were incredulous that such a small fire could have caused so much damage. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Before long, Sparks is in the living room at the Lamb ranch, pitching a political career to Sonny and his incredulous wife, Lola. Sonny, best known at this point in Presidio County as the man who bought his own bull at auction, seems an unlikely choice. Shawna Seed, Dallas News, 12 Sep. 2023 Nell, the youngest and an aspiring actress, is incredulous that her mother had so many lucky breaks yet gave it all up. Priscilla Gilman,, 3 Aug. 2023 The former Alabama All-American wasn’t the only one incredulous about Cook’s release, which followed three of the NFL’s best running backs being prevented from entering free agency in March – not by contract extensions but by the franchise tag. Mark Inabinett |, al, 19 June 2023 Coach Bruce Arena and the Revolution were incredulous when Carles Gil was not among the 26 players named to the MLS All-Star team last month. Greg McKenna,, 7 July 2023 What not to do Commenters on my last column seemed incredulous that even a new adult would need to be told to dress conservatively and use formal language in work emails. Karla L. Miller, Washington Post, 29 June 2023 The former president had sounded incredulous for months that his onetime acolyte would challenge him. Michael C. Bender, New York Times, 18 Apr. 2023 Udo-Ema still is incredulous at the concern, saying that those who equate toughness with outward emotion have missed the point. Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2022 Why he’s become such an incredulous, vocal critic of these kinds of things on the App Store is because, as he’s explained via Twitter, zeroing in on these scammy, shady apps is not that difficult. Andy Meek, BGR, 20 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'incredulous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin incredulus, from in- + credulus credulous

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of incredulous was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near incredulous

Cite this Entry

“Incredulous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​cred·​u·​lous (ˈ)in-ˈkrej-ə-ləs How to pronounce incredulous (audio)
: feeling or showing an inability to believe something : skeptical
listened with an incredulous smile
incredulously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on incredulous

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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