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

But the materials issue could be solved, and the labor inefficiency may be a product of the fact that most urban farmers are hobbyists and are doing it for fun. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Urban farms could be incredibly efficient—but aren’t yet," 27 Dec. 2018 By day, the 32-year-old is an auditor for the Department of Defense, looking for inefficiencies in U.S. Army spending and writing reports with his findings. Anna Muckerman,, "'Junk food is a language that everyone understands' — meet the Baltimore man behind Junk Banter blog," 20 June 2018 But to economist Joel Waldfogel, author of Scroogenomics, a credo against the inefficiency of holiday gift-giving, gifts are rarely logical propositions. Rachel Sugar, Vox, "Consider the Edible Arrangement," 29 Nov. 2018 Outright graft makes up only a sliver of the inefficiency in government spending, the ultimate cause of the country’s combination of high taxes and poor public services. The Economist, "Brazil reinstates fuel subsidies after a disruptive lorry strike," 31 May 2018 The problem with scaling bandwidth and power comes down to lasers and their inefficiency. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "661Tbps through a single optical fiber: The mind boggles," 1 Aug. 2018 As economists will rush to point out, there have been enormous inefficiencies and waste along the way, money lost on graft or junk technology. David Roberts, Vox, "China made solar panels cheap. Now it’s doing the same for electric buses.," 24 July 2018 So this is an inefficiency — why should someone need to come forward in a crisis scenarios for a company to take the time to affirm its values? Tom Alexander,, "Five things you can do to improve diversity and inclusion at your company today, like right now, this moment," 5 July 2018 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

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

12 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for inefficiency

The first known use of inefficiency was in 1749

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More Definitions for inefficiency



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on inefficiency

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to gather or build up little by little

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