in·​ef·​fi·​cien·​cy | \ ˌi-nə-ˈfi-shən(t)-sē How to pronounce inefficiency (audio) \
plural inefficiencies

Definition of inefficiency

1 : the quality or state of being inefficient
2 : something that is inefficient

Examples of inefficiency in a Sentence

The candidate blamed her opponent for the local government's inefficiency. She claims that money can be saved by reducing inefficiencies.
Recent Examples on the Web Against weaker opponents like Denver, the Chiefs had enough to overcome the red-zone inefficiency. Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, "NFL Week 13 winners, losers: Behind Joe Judge, New York Giants pull off upset of the season," 8 Dec. 2020 Dai expects there to be some confusion and inefficiency as distribution continues in late winter and early spring, when supply is still growing and more, but not all, people are eligible to get a vaccine. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "How will you be told when it's your turn for a COVID-19 vaccine? It's complicated.," 25 Dec. 2020 Americans are conditioned to expect inefficiency and waste in government programs. Hayden Dublois, National Review, "Improper Medicaid Payments Have Soared since Obamacare," 9 Dec. 2020 To underscore Saunders' point about their inefficiency, the Wolves hit only three of those 14 attempts. Chris Hine, Star Tribune, "Timberwolves keep trying to limit taking midrange jumpers," 13 Dec. 2020 Where Westbrook is hounded most by his critics is for his inefficiency as a scorer. New York Times, "What’s the Deal With Russell Westbrook?," 4 Dec. 2020 Magufuli initially won praise for clamping down on corruption and government inefficiency after coming to power in 2015, but has since faced criticism for stifling dissent and eroding civil liberties. Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala,, "Tanzania Opposition Vow to Protest Election Loss Despite Arrests," 3 Nov. 2020 During a particularly brutal cold snap in 2018, DGS workers noticed a significant amount of steam escaping, which indicated inefficiency in the steam heating system, Churchill said. Pamela Wood,, "Lawyers Mall, the state capital’s First Amendment gathering space, to reopen after two years of repairs," 27 Nov. 2020 Even Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards, who went No. 1 overall to the Timberwolves, has endured criticism for his inefficiency, shot selection and inconsistent motor. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors take Memphis’ James Wiseman with No. 2 pick in NBA draft," 18 Nov. 2020

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

1749, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for inefficiency

Time Traveler

The first known use of inefficiency was in 1749

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Statistics for inefficiency

Last Updated

6 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inefficiency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce inefficiency (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of inefficiency

: the lack of ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy : the quality or state of being inefficient


in·​ef·​fi·​cien·​cy | \ ˌi-nə-ˈfi-shən-sē How to pronounce inefficiency (audio) \
plural inefficiencies

Kids Definition of inefficiency

: the state or an instance of being ineffective or inefficient

More from Merriam-Webster on inefficiency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inefficiency

Nglish: Translation of inefficiency for Spanish Speakers

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