in·​ef·​fi·​cien·​cy | \ˌi-nə-ˈfi-shən(t)-sē \
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

These could be the result of inefficiencies in their turnaround procedures or late arrivals, which create ripple effects. Fredrick Kunkle, Washington Post, "Prepare for long lines and possible Memorial Day delays, especially at these airports," 23 May 2018 The purpose of the sale is simple: Consolidate services and streamline operations to spare ratepayers the increases forced by duplication and inefficiencies. Anchorage Daily News, "Proposed ML&P sale makes sense for Anchorage," 14 Jan. 2018 Faced with razor-thin profit margins, restaurant owners need a system to cut down on food waste and help remedy other common inefficiencies. Samantha Bomkamp,, "For restaurants, tracking food waste, costs 'could be the difference between succeeding and going out of business'," 2 July 2018 And each of the candidates said there’s ample room to save money by cutting state and local government inefficiencies. Rebecca Lurye,, "Four Gubernatorial Candidates Pitch Their Business Plans To Tech Leaders," 13 June 2018 Implementation will be overseen by Amtrak, which manages to lose millions selling food to its own passengers along with countless other inefficiencies. Ted Budd, WSJ, "The Northeast’s Costly Tunnel Vision," 7 Mar. 2018 Going back to the early 1980s, Clinton as a young governor was showing his determination to fix the abundant problems in a welfare system creaking with age, inefficiency, and perverse incentives. Neil Swidey,, "How Democrats would be better off if Bill Clinton had never been president," 10 July 2018 The ironic inefficiency of hyper-exaggerated high-end entertaining spaces belies a truth: These spaces aren’t really designed for entertaining. Kate Wagner, Curbed, "Our homes don’t need formal spaces," 11 July 2018 The authors say this incentive would address a key inefficiency of the current system, which is that companies like Uber and Lyft lure too many drivers onto the road as a way to lower wait times for passengers. New York Times, "New York City Considers New Pay Rules for Uber Drivers," 2 July 2018

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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Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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The first known use of inefficiency was in 1749

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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 \
plural inefficiencies

Kids Definition of inefficiency

: the state or an instance of being ineffective or inefficient

More from Merriam-Webster on inefficiency

Spanish Central: Translation of inefficiency

Nglish: Translation of inefficiency for Spanish Speakers

Comments on inefficiency

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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