in·​ef·​fi·​cient ˌi-nə-ˈfi-shənt How to pronounce inefficient (audio)
: not efficient: such as
: wasteful of time or energy
inefficient operating procedures
: incapable, incompetent
an inefficient worker
: not producing the effect intended or desired
inefficient noun
inefficiently adverb

Example Sentences

The delivery system was very inefficient. an inefficient use of fuel
Recent Examples on the Web Critics have long argued the system is inefficient and discriminates against people of color, calling for a broad overhaul. Sheryl Gay Stolberg,, 22 Mar. 2023 Despite that, Kentucky was far too inefficient and careless with the ball. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 19 Mar. 2023 The Terrapins’ offense ranged from inefficient to hapless. Nick Alvarez |, al, 18 Mar. 2023 After years of criticism for being inefficient and antiquated, the IRS has spent nearly $1 billion to improve its service. Alexis Christoforous, ABC News, 12 Mar. 2023 Combined with the fact that capital becomes harder to access, this quickly drives inefficient and rigid businesses into bankruptcy. Abdo Riani, Forbes, 28 Jan. 2023 But those options were often inefficient and ineffective, not to mention rough on the researchers. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Jan. 2023 The current museum building, which opened in 1963 at 800 W. Wells St., is too large, inefficient and in need of $70 million in deferred maintenance projects, museum officials have said. Sophie Carson, Journal Sentinel, 10 Jan. 2023 A century later, this law has made moving natural gas and oil from one U.S. region to another inefficient and costly. Alana Semuels, Time, 22 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'inefficient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1750, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of inefficient was in 1750

Dictionary Entries Near inefficient

Cite this Entry

“Inefficient.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​ef·​fi·​cient ˌin-ə-ˈfish-ənt How to pronounce inefficient (audio)
: not producing the effect expected or desired
inefficient regulations
: wasteful of time or energy
inefficient procedures
especially : accomplishing little relative to the time spent or effort expended
an inefficient worker
inefficiently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on inefficient

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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